I remember the 1984 Summer Olympics very well. I was 8 years old and watched real gymnastics for the very first time. I would forward roll and cart-wheel around my house as Mary Lou Retton performed her routines. My mom wasn’t very happy I started watching TV standing on my head after that. Mary Lou was a huge role model for me. I remember begging my mom for Wheaties cereal when we went to the grocery store and I saw her on the box. I remember thinking if I eat this, I can be like Mary Lou.
Fast forward to 2012 Summer Olympics, Gabby Douglas has become the new Mary Lou. Little girls across the globe look up to her like I did to Mary Lou Retton. They want to be like her, tumble like her, and eat like her. Gabby, just like Mary Lou, is the new face of a cereal, but this time it’s Cornflakes instead of Wheaties.
Some questions you may be asking yourself right now: So what if Gabby is the face of a cereal? Cereals are healthy, right? They fit into the new MyPlate model, so what’ the big fuss? Why are you hatin’ on Gabby? I would be happy to address these questions. First, I am not bashing Gabby. I admire her talent, and I am so proud of her accomplishments for our country. However, I am disappointed and I will give my reasons why. Here’s my take on why I think this a bad idea. I would love to hear what you think.
1. Gabby Douglas may unknowingly be the face of GMO corn. Now ponder that while your kid shovels cornflakes in their mouth with the hope of somehow being like Gabby. Cornflakes may be made from GMO corn. Europe doesn’t allow GMO’s in their food supply. The good ol’ USA does without long-term studies to verify impact of health of Americans. At this time, it’s not required to label if GMOs are in your food. You can check out www.justlabelit.org for more information on GMO’s and the movement to get them labeled. As a consumer, I have a right to know especially if it affects my health and the health of my family.
2. Cornflakes are still processed food. Yes, we are going to eat some processed foods in our diets on some level. They all aren’t evil. Cornflakes, in particular, isn’t a nutrition powerhouse with only 1 gram of fiber for 100 calories. With childhood obesity at the highest rates in history, don’t you think we should have Olympians be the face of whole, real foods, like fruits & vegetables or whole grains? If we are trying to make a positive impact on childhood obesity, I find this irresponsible.
3. Food marketing to children is out of control. I can’t go into the grocery store without my kids begging me to get something because a superhero or cartoon character is on the packaging. If this was on real fruits and vegetables and real whole grains, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I would much rather Gabby be the face of Birds Eye’s new marketing program pushing veggies.
Here are good and bad examples of marketing to kids.