Pikku Nälkä, or hunger personified

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been living in Europe for the past year.  (I’m not naming the country so it can’t be Googled, but if you’re familiar with the language, you’ll recognize it from this post.)  I have found it very entertaining to watch TV here and see the differences from the US, and something that stood out to me is this yogurt commercial that I totally adore.  It personifies hunger as this so-ugly-it’s-cute troll figure, Pikku Nälkä (Little Hunger) that bugs you during the day.  The way to get it to stop bothering you?  Eat!

I am reminded of the Weight Watchers commercials that Brian talked about here, where hunger is also personified as a monster.  This monster is even cuter than Pikku Nälkä, but the message in this commercial is that dieting is the way to get rid of the monster, which is completely nonsensical.  When I dieted, hunger followed me around all day long – diets just prolonged and amplified my hunger.  As well as made me feel like there was something wrong with me for even having an appetite!  I was really struck by the difference between the two commercials – eating to satisfy one’s hunger seems like such a no-brainer, but it certainly isn’t a message that gets much play in US mainstream media.

I am also intrigued by the personification of hunger as a monster in both commercials.  Certainly hunger seemed monstrous to me when I dieted, and I fought against it so fervently as if it were an enemy.  Now my hunger is so useful.  It lets me know when I need to refuel, and it sparks my appetite so I am able to enjoy my food.  Were I to personify it for myself, I might think of it as a guardian angel of sorts, tapping me on the shoulder to wake me up to the need and desire for food.  Except that I think there is something to the image of the cute monster – it makes me think of when I get too hungry and start to get cranky and snarly and out of sorts, and a cute-ugly troll seems the perfect representation for that feeling.

Then I eat, and me and my Pikku Nälkä settle back down, soothed and satisfied.

As I’ve mentioned before (https://fatbodied.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/happy-returns/), I’ve been living in Europe for the past year.  (I’m not naming the country so it can’t be Googled.)  I have found it very entertaining to watch TV here and see the differences from the US, and something that stood out to me is this yogurt commercial that I totally adore.  It personifies hunger as this so-ugly-it’s-cute troll figure, Pikku Nälkä (Little Hunger) that bugs you during the day.  The way to get it to stop bothering you?  Eat!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHH24meVmqc&NR=1

I am reminded of the Weight Watchers commercials that Brian (http://red3.blogspot.com/) talked about here (http://red3.blogspot.com/2009/01/hungry-is-my-friend-and-yours.html), where hunger is also personified as a monster.  This monster is even cuter than Pikku Nälkä, but the message in this commercial is that dieting is the way to get rid of the monster, which is completely nonsensical.  When I dieted, hunger followed me around all day long – diets just prolonged and amplified my hunger.  As well as made me feel like there was something wrong with me for even having an appetite!  I was really struck by the difference between the two commercials – eating to satisfy one’s hunger seems like such a no-brainer, but it certainly isn’t a message that gets much play in US mainstream media.

I am also intrigued by the personification of hunger as a monster in both commercials.  Certainly hunger seemed monstrous to me when I dieted, and I fought against it so fervently as if it were an enemy.  Now my hunger is so useful.  It lets me know when I need to refuel, and it sparks my appetite so I am able to enjoy my food.  Were I to personify it for myself, I might think of it as a guardian angel of sorts, tapping me on the shoulder to wake me up to the need and desire for food.  Except that I think there is something to the image of the cute monster – it makes me think of when I get too hungry and start to get cranky and snarly and out of sorts, and a cute-ugly troll seems the perfect representation for that feeling.

Then I eat, and me and my Pikku Nälkä settle back down, soothed and satisfied.

Advertisements

14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

14 responses to “Pikku Nälkä, or hunger personified

  1. Andy Jo

    I recognize the language… I spent some time in the same country last year, living and working. LOVED IT!

    Although the appreciation of the too-thin model, and there are still diet-stuff ads on TV, I felt much less body hatred around me while I was there.

    Enjoy! It is a wonderful place!

    –Andy Jo–

    • Andy Jo, moikka! I am actually moving back to the US in about a week, but I agree with you about the reduction of body hatred here – I will miss that. Going to the uimahalli and getting naked in the locker room with people of all shapes and sizes and ages was really great for feeling comfortable in my skin (not to mention the sauna!) I do think that not understanding the language other than on a superficial level probably helped me avoid a lot of negativity too.. 🙂

  2. Andrea K

    Hrm, honestly for me the association would be no more complicated than “hunger in the stomach growls, therefore it’s a beast.”

  3. coolhandjennie

    That’s fantastic. I never really thought about the statement WW is making with that little guy, mostly because I avoid diet advertising at all costs, but it’s kind of diabolical. The diet industry relentlessly exploits the mind set that we cannot trust our own bodies, the mind set that cares so much about what’s on the outside, we stifle what’s inside until we don’t know WHAT our bodies are telling us.

    Your previous post describes an abuser encouraging a woman to distrust her own instincts and instead rely on his arbitrary rules for her own good. Sounds like a Weight Watchers ad to me! No wonder so many of us have such an abusive relationship with food.

    • The diet industry relentlessly exploits the mind set that we cannot trust our own bodies, the mind set that cares so much about what’s on the outside, we stifle what’s inside until we don’t know WHAT our bodies are telling us.

      Jennie, that is so spot on. So much of the work I did with my nutritionist was just learning to even NOTICE my hunger signals – it was just all so messed up. It was very scary and intimidating to listen to my body without all the mental detritus getting in the way, but I am so glad I’ve been learning how anyway. Feel the fear and do it anyway, right? 😉

  4. Wendy

    This post reminded me of a series of commercials in the Netherlands, where they also use a “monster” to personify hunger. The premise is a bit different though, you don’t scare it away by eating but you soothe it instead.

  5. Wow, I think I live in this country… 😀

    It’s strange, I wouldn’t think of us as body-positive necessarily. There are lots of negative messages all around me, especially of the health variety. In my country, people tend to think of the US as this place of fat people where everybody just eats junk food all the time. At first, it felt pretty strange to see the FA sites talk about fat hatred in the US, because I hadn’t expected it. I had thought my country was the worst! 😉 There are fewer “supersized” people here, but we generally consider ourselves one of the fattest countries in Europe/the world, and most people are ashamed of that. Sadly.

    I think we’re less concerned about nudity though, and thus possibly more OK with the human body – i.e. the uimahalli and sauna examples. My family is openly naked in front of each other. US people tend to be shocked when I tell them about that. 😀

    • Deniselle, I remember your blogs from way back – I thought of you as we moved here. (I really enjoyed your baby name blog – I love the names here.)

      And it is so great to get your perspective as a native citizen. I remember being afraid that I would be the only fat person in the whole capital, and was terrified I wouldn’t be able to find any clothes at all. I was so relieved to be wrong on both counts! I don’t think the shopping options are amazing, but I got some really cute dresses from Seppälä that I’ll be bringing back to the US.

      Your input does make me think that I probably just didn’t pick up on a lot of the fat hatred due to the language barrier – it was easy to avoid the majority of media messages when it would take me 15 minutes to decipher the headlines on the Metro paper!

      Still, I will miss it here – se on kaunis maa!

  6. Jenny Islander

    While I have issues with Weight Watchers, the Stay Ahead of Hungry Campaign isn’t one of them. In this version of the program–I can’t vouch for the earlier ones–you’re supposed to track your hunger every day in your little points book so that you can spot patterns, such as always getting ravenous two hours after lunch, and solve any problems the patterns reveal. (In this case: eat a more filling lunch, or pack a nourishing snack so you aren’t eating from the candy machine in an effort to get full, or–?) In other words, participants are told to listen to their bodies. “Stay Ahead of Hungry” means “Don’t let yourself get so hungry that you go off plan.”

    • I am all for noticing how your hunger works – I think that’s a great idea to get in touch with your bodily signals and trends – and can agree with “don’t let yourself get so hungry” until the “that you go off plan” part. That’s where my whole issue with WW – and weight loss dieting in general – comes from. I don’t want a plan to externally impose how to eat on me. What happens if you “stay on plan” but you’re still hungry? Or you eat “on plan” but don’t lose weight? It still is a mindset of hunger being something you have to work against – if you look at the pictures on Brian’s post that I linked to, Hunger is shown as tempting you with “bad” treats, and I don’t go for demonizing any food.

  7. Jenny Islander

    When I was in WW, it wasn’t a matter of avoiding bad food, but recognizing that the candy would not stop the hunger pangs for longer than an hour, which would necessitate another visit to the candy machine, and so on, leaving you with that sludgy feeling that comes from consuming a lot of corn syrup without fiber to keep it moving along, and incidentally blowing your points budget on something you didn’t really want anyway. Much better to either fuel up at lunch or pick out something you know will keep you going for a snack and chase it with a bit of chocolate if you want. In other words, an apple, some peanut butter, and one peanut butter cup versus six peanut butter cups and a blah stomach.

    I simply never heard a message of distrusting food at my meetings, although I understand that meetings differ. We were taught that there were no bad foods, although some people might find that for them, certain foods just weren’t a good idea to have in the house because they would feel compelled to eat them until they were gone regardless of whether they were really enjoying it. (My serious trigger food is cola; if it’s there, I’ll drink it, even though I know perfectly well that it isn’t really quenching my thirst/I’m going to have unpleasant digestive symptoms if I don’t stop at two cans/that much cola isn’t good for the teeth and bones/whatever. So I drink cola occasionally at parties and don’t have it at home anymore.)

    Going back to the concept of the points budget, I found it to be a useful tool in trying to replace my disordered eating with something that was better for my health. Like a lot of people, I had given up on ever getting my eating right. So I just threw whatever was easiest into my stomach. I didn’t even know whether I really was hungry half the time I was eating; conversely, I could walk around feeling shaky with a pounding head for an hour before I realized, “Hey, I need to eat.” I didn’t know how to get full without feeling sick or how to eat healthy without approaching it like an ascetic exercise. For me, being shown a daily points budget with a checklist of servings of fruits and vegetables and so forth meant that I finally had a way to look at my eating dispassionately, as numbers in a ledger devoid of emotional baggage. Following the checklist also helped me put together an eating plan that kept me healthier; I wasn’t consuming mainly processed wheat, corn, and potatoes with soybean oil anymore.

    That said, I am no longer in WW because the points system requires time I don’t have anymore. I am typing this at oh-dark-thirty because I happen to be up with a baby who is having a rough night. During the day, I simply can no longer calculate and record points, and my schedule does not allow me to plan meals anymore. (More precisely, I can plan, but the follow-through depends on a lot of factors I can’t control.) I can’t even buy the low-point convenience meals, such as the soups that have points values on the labels, which is a bummer because some of them are really tasty and satisfying. I am concentrating on stocking up on things I can eat in a hurry that are really nourishing and sticking to my WW “Seven Healthy Habits” (eat your veggies! drink your water! take your vitamin!–all the stuff Mom says).

    My other major problem with WW is that while their endorsed soups are good, most of the rest of their proprietary foods are just ugh. Their little bars and chips and things seem to be made to provide a big flavor hit, but I could get the same effect eating a dill pickle or sucking on a mint without spending several dollars for a box of processed food. And their recipes! Replace real Cheddar cheese with a low-fat substitute? Use fat-free sour cream? I would rather use less of the real thing or pick a recipe (when I have time to cook) that doesn’t call for any of that stuff.

    If I do go back to WW, I may find that it feels like a diet, where it didn’t before, except in the old broad sense of “what people eat.” But so far for me, it’s been more a way to get the hungry headaches and the too-full stomachaches out of my life.

    • I’m glad that you were personally able to extract so much good out of WW, but it doesn’t change my opposition to the weight loss dieting as a whole. I am opposed to it as a way for me to function personally – once I am aiming for a “goal weight,” then all my choices ultimately boil down to “is this making me lose weight?” instead of “is this working for my physical and mental well-being?” – as well as opposing the cultural mandate that weight loss as a goal in and of itself. No matter how much WW tries to position themselves as not a diet plan, they’re a diet plan, and that’s not something I endorse, no matter whether or not some elements can be useful. I am not trying to change your individual mind, but I feel it’s important for me to be very clear where I stand.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s