Woman Hits Out At 'Cheat Day' Lunchbox For Promoting Diet Culture To Children

A sequinned children's lunchbox with the words 'Cheat Day' written on it has been social media users as 'promoting a diet culture' among little girls.

With an estimated 1.6 million people in the UK living with eating disorders according to charity Beat, it should be no surprise that the lunchbox has prompted such an angry response.

Many - us included - have questioned why a product aimed at children would have such a problematic phrase printed on the front, seemingly encouraging children to worry about their size, shape and what they eat from such a young age. Not only that, it seems to tell young girls there is worth in their appearance which is undoubtedly a sinister message for children.

Writer Sonni Abbatta came across the bag while shopping in a department store, and posted a picture of it with a lengthy rant on Facebook.

Like many, Sonni was 'sickened' by the lunchbox, which she feels was marketed to young girls because of the pink fabric and gold sequins.

"I am SICKENED that this phrase is on a lunch box," she wrote."We scratch our heads when we see our little girls struggle with body image, with self worth, with confidence.

"We wonder, "Why do our girls worry so much about their bodies so young?" ... "Why does my five year old call herself 'fat?'" ... "Why does my middle schooler stand in front of the mirror and find all her flaws?" THIS. This is part of the reason why."

Social media users have also fumed over the lunchbox. Credit: Unsplash
Social media users have also fumed over the lunchbox. Credit: Unsplash

Sonni continued: "Our world is telling our girls that it's "cheating" if they eat something that's not 100% fat-free and perfectly healthy.

"In turn, that tells them that self-control and denying herself is to be valued above all. And that if she dares to step outside of the foods that will keep her perfectly slim and trim, then she is by default "cheating" and needs to feel some sense of remorse."

Sonni goes on to add that a diet of sugar and chips isn't right either, but the 'Cheat Day' lunchbox would send a message to young girls that will only add to their "already-fragile senses of self" by making them feel ashamed by eating something 'unhealthy'.

She also argues in her post that the underlying message was sexist.

"We are not overreacting when we ask more of the world when it comes to how they treat our girls," Sonni continued. "Can you imagine a similar message directed toward little boys? For the record, I'd be equally offended... but I haven't seen anything that is aimed at making our boys feel bad about what they eat, or how they look."

The lunchbox was has the words 'Cheat Day' on the front. Credit: PA Images
The lunchbox was has the words 'Cheat Day' on the front. Credit: PA Images

Sonni concluded her post with an empowering message, urging: "Girls--you are not "cheating" when you enjoy good food. You are not "cheating" when you eat pizza. You are not "cheating" when you have a cookie, or two, on occasion. You are not "cheating" when you live in moderation and allow yourself things that make you happy.

"Girls--you are MORE than your bodies. More than your faces. More than your complexions. More than the clothes you wear and the things you buys and the other girls you hang out with.

"You are beautiful, worthy, intelligent, and whole beings--whole beings who are worthy of so much love and respect, no matter what anyone, or anyTHING, says."

Social media users were quick to react to the post, backing up Sonni's outrage at pushing fad diets on girls of such a young age.

"So well said. No one should feel like this with a lunchbox that has a message like this. Girls shouldn't, boys shouldn't, women shouldn't and Men shouldn't," wrote one. "The company should be held accountable for producing such a product that would want to send that message and the shop where they are been sold should take them off their shelves."

And another echoed: "That is terrible! Why would a store want to represent their merchandise like that? To make money at the expense of little girls? I would never buy that for my granddaughters!"

Many users called for the lunchbox to removed from sale. Credit: PA images
Many users called for the lunchbox to removed from sale. Credit: PA images

However, her post was met with a flurry of replies claiming that the lunchbox was for women not girls, prompting Sonni to clarify her comments further.

She wrote: "First, this was surrounded by other lunch boxes and gummy snacks. As you can see, above it is another light pink and small lunch box. To me, that seems like it's for girls.

"Second, it's pink with gold sequins. Even if the label doesn't explicitly say "girls," you're going to say that this isn't meant to appeal to them?

"And third: Even if it was supposed to be marketed only toward women and the store just decided to place it with other items that seemed very "young girl" in nature, still kinda sucks."

Here's hoping the product will be pulled immediately to stop adding to the pressures we already face.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

Rachel Andrews

Rachel Andrews is an NCTJ trained Journalist at PRETTY52. She specialises in Fashion and Beauty Journalism, and has experience at a range of online and print publications and joined the team in 2017. Contact her - rachel.andrews@pretty52.com

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