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The skinny on indulgence

Posted by: Interbrand on December 02, 2011


Overindulge over the Thanksgiving holiday? Well, you’re certainly not alone. From that first piece of candy you sneak on Halloween to the last glass of champagne on New Years Eve, it’s that season: the cycle of indulgence, guilt and resolutions. Not surprisingly, weight-loss plans dance in our heads more often than visions of sugar plums. For as long as someone has wanted to lose weight, someone else has been willing to tell us how. And as the most popular methods have evolved over the years, so have the names and promises.


As a message, thin will always be in. But what we’re allowed to call it continues to change. From the early ’80s, Lean Cuisine generously suggested that dieters could indulge in taste without the fear of gaining – it is Cuisine, after all. Besides, it wasn’t about getting skinny, it was about staying “Lean.”

Before the ’90s dawned, though, Slim-Fast got a little more direct, and a little swifter. Don’t focus on food, they said. Instead replace it. It left indulgence to a single meal, and suggested that lean was not enough. What you really need to be? Slim. And even now they’re making it as easy as “3-2-1”.

Today, as more of us turn to the extremes of reality TV and the desire to tell it like it is, we’ve given ourselves permission to celebrate the thin ideal by uttering the cinch-waisted bottom line: skinny. We promote the idea of indulgence, with Skinny Girl cocktails, Skinny Bitch cookbooks, Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters and even endearing opposites like Fat Witch brownies.

So it does seem that we’re ever more willing to walk away from euphemisms, and claim terms we’ve long, carefully avoided – terms like skinny and fat. With the season of celebration upon us, be it feast or self-imposed famine, there's no such thing as one-size-fits-all, and certainly more than one way to say thin. Or plan for it….just as soon as the holidays are over.

Category: Etymology

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