A few weeks ago, a few friends and I were discussing people who are chosen to represent companies. Typically, those who pick individuals to promote their products make sure the spokesperson looks the part. For example, you generally wouldn't see someone who weighs 500 pounds and smokes representing a running apparel company. Instead, the higher ups will probably look for a true athlete, someone who may already use their products. Most businesses usually take it one step further by seeking out individuals who appear to be healthy, no matter what the product.
What's worrisome is that, just like with modeling, some companies don't have standards when it comes to weight. Oh, they do when it comes to being TOO heavy. You definitely can't be heavy in this world and expect to have products and opportunities showered on you, but being too thin seems to scare people into keeping quiet. Companies will often turn a blind eye when it comes to spokespeople being too thin. I'm not talking about people who might be too thin; I'm talking about people who have clearly hurled themselves over a wide line. I'm not sure it's anyone's place to say something to the person or the company in these cases, but there seems to be a double standard. Besides, what could anyone say? "Hey, I noticed you have a malnourished gal representing your company. I hope she eats something soon!"
I admit that when I went to the facebook page of an organic food company, I was horrified to see one person in quite a few photos sporting their logo, a lady who seemed to be some sort of company representative and was listed as a sponsored athlete, looking not just anorexic but very unwell. I know some people can be naturally thin, but when the person looks like she somehow managed to stagger out of Dachau, it's usually not because of a high metabolism.
I don't know about you, but seeing something like that did not make me want to buy whatever they were selling. In fact, I quickly changed my mind about even looking into their packaged foods.
I understand that weight doesn't define a person. At the same time, would you take advice from an active alcoholic on how to get sober? It's not a great analogy, but there's a reason why companies often select healthy looking people to represent them. If I'm buying a product that makes claims about health, I don't expect to see someone in a state of starvation promoting it. She can (and should) eat all the raw bars and vegan shakes she wants, and I don't have a problem with the company sending her whatever they want. You have to admit, though, it's off putting to customers and potential customers to see someone so clearly in the throes of an illness in a position of promoting food.
I don't know what the solution is, but it's upsetting to me that this company in particular is OK with publicizing someone who appears to have such a severe addiction. This lady does't seem to be any kind of cancer survivor or someone aiming to be in good health; it's someone who looks sick. I find it sad. I'm not saying she shouldn't be given a chance to promote products; it's more that I don't think people will respond well to seeing someone pushing food when she looks like she does't come close to eating enough to sustain her activity level.
This reminds me of another odd occurrence I have witnessed more than a few times in the psychology world. I know of at least two counselors who are and admit to having obvious eating disorders that are getting worse who counsel others. A third is clearly in denial, which is probably worse. She seems to think everyone else is too fat while she is fine looking like a skeleton. I'm not sure how she gets clients, but she does. I guess it's a do as I say, not as I do phenomenon, but there's no way I would have done well getting advice from someone who was spiraling down while I was trying to recover.
I remember my mom telling me when I first had the idea to write my book that I had to first recover if I wanted to promote it in any way. She's right. I'm definitely not saying anyone has to be 100 percent healthy to be of service to others or hold a job as a spokesperson, far from it, but people will respond more appropriately if the person offering counsel or sporting a certain logo for a company is at least beginning to climb out of the hole instead of in the process of diving deeply into the abyss.
I'm curious to know what other people think about this.