Mom Questions Why We're Marketing Diet Culture To Little Girls

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Facebook/Sonni Abatta

Mom finds pink “cheat day” lunch box at department store and feels it’s being marketed to little girls

Raising daughters in a world where women and girls are constantly made to feel, in ways both subtle and overt, that there are things about themselves they should “fix” is no easy feat. What doesn’t help is when that harmful messaging comes in a way that’s possibly appealing to young girls, even if it’s not explicitly meant for them. That’s what one mom’s pointing out in a Facebook post she wrote after seeing a sparkly, pink lunchbox with the phrase “cheat day” emblazoned in sequins across the front for sale at a department store.

Sonni Abatta, a mom, writer, and podcast host, took to Facebook last night to share a photo along with her thoughts on a “cheat day” lunchbox she saw for sale on a checkout lane end cap at her local Nordstrom Rack in Orlando, Florida. The item’s location among other items girls might like (next to gummy candies and other pink lunchboxes) and appearance had Abatta feeling that it was meant to appeal to little girls.

“See this? This is a picture I snapped today of a little girl’s lunchbox that I saw for sale at a popular department store. Why do I say it’s marketed toward little girls? It’s pink, it has sequins and it was surrounded by other girls’ merchandise. So, safe to say that it’s aimed at our daughters,” she writes.

Abatta says she’s “sickened” to see the phrase on a lunchbox. “We scratch our heads when we see our little girls struggle with body image, with self worth, with confidence,” she says. “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,” she says. “This is part of the reason why.”

She elaborates on why she feels that the message is harmful. “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.”

Although she feels it’s important to encourage our kids to eat healthfully, Abatta still takes issue with the message the lunchbox promotes. “Look, I’m not saying a diet of strictly sugar and chips is right either; but by God, why would a company ever pile onto our girls’ already-fragile senses of self by making her feel as though she’s ‘cheating’ by eating something that’s–gasp–not made of vegetables and air?”

The mom acknowledges that people may think she’s overreacting — she disagrees. “We are not overreacting when we ask more of the world when it comes to how they treat our girls,” she writes. Abatta notes that if a similar message were seemingly aimed at young boys, that would bother her just as much. “… but I haven’t seen anything that is aimed at making our boys feel bad about what they eat, or how they look,” she points out.

Abatta tells Scary Mommy that the other items the lunchbox is displayed with led to her feeling that it was being inappropriately marketed to little girls. “It was in the middle of other pink and girly lunch boxes as well as some snacks,” she says.

Abatta tells us that most of her readers agree with her feeling that the lunchbox would appeal to young girls. “Most people agree that it feels inappropriate, though I did get some questions as to whether or not it was perhaps a women’s lunch box. I posted an update at the end of the post explaining my thoughts on it, which is basically: I definitely do not think it was being marketed toward women, given the location and how it looked (pink and gold sequins). But either way kind of a crappy message to send to girls of any age!”

Abatta ends her post with a message for young girls. “So here’s what I want to say, and what I will tell my girls. 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.”

This article was originally published on