In the article, Losing it in the Anti-Dieting Age, Taffy Brodesser tells the agony of being overweight and the challenges of selling products to women who are striving to keep fit in a society where beliefs about overweight have changed. The article appeared in the New York Times on August 2, 2017.Taffy Brodesser is a journalist and author and currently writes on culture section of the Times Magazine. Brodesser starts by examining the financial and marketing difficulties that have faced dieting companies such as Weight Watchers as people have developed a dieting fatigue. This paradigm shift is because of people’s realization that all bodies shapes and sizes ought to be accepted, and no one’s value should be pegged on their body shape or weight. In the article, Brodesser illustrates how the society and individuals have changed their beliefs regarding dieting, and this has resulted in far-reaching consequences for companies and individuals trying to get the perfect shape. To do this, Brodesser uses research findings and statistics, case studies of failing dieting companies, her account and an emotional appeal to put her point across.
Logos refers to the use of reason to persuade the listeners or the readers to take a point of view. To do this, an author or speaker uses statistics, research findings and results from experiments to build their case and if they assemble objective and verifiable evidence, they are likely to convince the readers and the listeners to take their point of view. In the article, Brodesser uses multiple statistics, various research findings and case studies of dieting companies to illustrate to the readers that being fat is no longer considered a big burden since individuals have come to accept it and no longer allow themselves to be stigmatized by this condition. For instance, Brodesser notes that despite the fact that more than two-thirds of Americans are considered to be obese, companies such as Weight Watchers have had Myriad problems marketing their products to the American population showing that people are no longer inclined to change their body shape (Brodesser, n.pg). Furthermore, Brodesser includes the research findings of Georgia Southern University which revealed that between 1988 to 1994,56 percent of adults tried to lose weight, but between 2009 to 2018, the number dropped to 49 percent (Brodesser, n.pg). This statistic supports Brodesser’s claim that the society has changed its beliefs about what a perfect body means and therefore the reason why people are no longer interested in losing weight since they would rather accept themselves the way they are. Besides, Brodesser includes the research findings of Weight Watcher in which the company found out that the average weight loss occurs after six months where the dieter loses 5 percent of the body weight but after two years, they regain nearly a third of the weight they had lost (Brodesser, n.pg). This finding, therefore, questions the wisdom of starting a dieting program in the first place since, with time, one goes back to where they started.
In addition, Brodesser uses case studies of dieting companies to convince the reader that the society has changed its perception to dieting which has adversely affected the profit margin of companies in this industry. To illustrate, Brodesser notes that Weight Watcher is in its fourth year of member recruitment decline and despite the intensive marketing campaigns, the company was unable to register people in its dieting programs (Brodesser, n.pg). Similarly, Lean Cuisine was forced to reposition itself as a modern eating company to help it survive in the face changing consumer attitude towards dieting. Through the use of statistics, research findings and case studies, Brodesser has aptly illustrated a change in perception towards dieting since people stopped viewing being fat as a burden and instead embraced it as a part of who they are.
Ethos is a strategy used by authors and speakers to establish their credibility since it is until then that they can talk about a certain topic or issue. In the article, Brodesser uses her battle with obesity and her interaction with stakeholders in the wellness industry to establish her credibility. According to her account, Brodesser has been dieting since she was 15 years and over the years, she has tried techniques such as south beaching and slim fasting, and despite her attempts to get the perfect shape, this has not been possible (Brodesser, n.pg). Therefore, when she suggests that people struggling with weight should be moving towards acceptance, she tells it from a personal point of view hence any reader on a dieting program would know that the program will not achieve long-lasting results. Besides, Brodesser’s time at Obesity Week enabled her to meet women who had battled with weight for years and just when they thought that they had perfect body shapes and sizes, their battle with weight began afresh (Brodesser, n.pg). Furthermore, Brodesser establishes herself as a person who has interacted with authorities in the dieting industry and therefore credible to talk about this topic. For instance, she recounts her conversation with Mindly Grossman, CEO of Weight Watchers. As well, Brodesser shows that she is well read on the topic of dieting given that she has read books such as Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight as well as the Fat Power which focus predominantly on dieting (Brodesser, n.pg). Hence, the author effectively establishes herself as a credible person on the issue through telling her story and illustrating to the reader her interaction with authorities on the dieting topic.
Pathos refers to the use of emotional appeal to convince the readers to accept the author’s point of view. In the article, Brodesser uses her personal story as a way to relate emotionally with her readers and to tell them that she knows their pain and agony and therefore they are not alone. This is very important especially to the overweight readers out there who feel like they do not fit in the society. Furthermore, the use of rhetorical questions evokes certain emotions in the readers hence asking them to consider the author’s point of view. For instance, Brodesser asks her readers, “What if the flaw wasn’t in us but in the system?” (Brodesser, n.pg). This question offers a great deal of comfort to all the readers struggling with weight since it enquires whether they are to blame for their current struggles with weight. Furthermore, Brodesser asks her readers, “shouldn’t we be moving towards acceptance? “(Brodesser, n.pg). By asking this question, the author gives a different way of viewing obesity other than the one most readers are acquainted with. Since most people view being overweight as a problem to be gotten rid of, Brodesser’s suggestion that they should accept it is likely to lead an emotion of wonder and curiosity since most readers who wonder how anyone can ever accept to be overweight. Besides, Brodesser’s choice of words seeks to evoke emotions in the readers hence convince them that being overweight is not such a bad thing after all. For instance, the author states, “Our bodies deserve our thoughts and our kindness, our acceptance and our striving,” (Brodesser, n.pg). This statement means that despite one’s body size or shape, they should treat themselves with love and kindness since it is the only way to find fulfillment in life. Through the use of words such as kindness, Brodesser convinces the reader to take her point of view not because she said it but because the body deserves that. To sum up, this rhetorical analysis has demonstrated how Brodesser uses research findings and statistics, case studies of failing dieting companies, her account and an emotional appeal to show her readers that people have changed their attitude towards dieting. The statistics used by Brodesser helps the author to see the logic of her point of view while her account of her struggle with weight establishes her as an authority on the topic. Besides, by using rhetorical questions and emotive words such as kindness, Brodesser makes a strong emotional appeal. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the topic of dieting and obesity is very sensitive and given the impact of the body shape and size on a person’s self-esteem, it is likely that the debate on these topics is far from over.