New Zealand dad Ekant Veer feared the moment his daughters would face the reality of body-shaming for the first time. But he certainly never guessed it would come about because of a candy wrapper.
Veer says he didn't think his 8- and 6-year-old daughters were worried about the way they looked until he overheard them discussing how attractive they were on a scale of one to 10. When dad asked where they had heard a question like that, his youngest daughter handed him the wrapper for a Natural Confectionery Company Smoothie Chew.
"That's when my disappointment turned to astonishment and annoyance," Veer told The Huffington Post in an email. As an associate professor who has published papers on body objectification, he knew it wasn't a good message. "We want their identity to be more linked to their abilities, achievements, and loving/caring personalities than their bodies," he said.
Veer posted the image on Reddit and asked others if they thought he was being too sensitive.
Many Reddit commenters agreed with him: "They're just conversation starters, but yes, I have a daughter and just reading that makes me want to punch somebody. Why companies think that's a good question is just beyond me," one wrote.
But others did think the dad was taking the question too seriously. One dissenter commented, "Overreacting. There is clearly a completely different topic question on the same wrapper as well. It's just a conversation starter. Also who the heck cares?"
Veer contacted Mondelez, the candy brand's parent company, and sent them a picture of the wrapper, expressing his disappointment. He explained in a Reddit update that the company's Director of Corporate Affairs said the question was inappropriate and would no longer be used.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Mondelez's Director of Corporate Affairs wrote:
I can confirm that we had a question on the inside of the wrapper of a candy product, which was;
“On a scale of 1-10, how good looking would you rate yourself?”
This question had not passed the appropriate internal approvals and has subsequently been removed from production.
Mondelez International has strict protocols on the appropriate marketing standards and healthy body image and these protocols weren’t met in this instance.
Although happy with the company's response, Veer still had to deal with what his girls had seen, and so he and the girls' mother used the opportunity to discuss body image with their daughters.
"I responded by chatting to them at length about what beauty is (it's who you are on the inside, not how you look) and how important both of them are to me and their mummy. We discussed why the question isn't a great one for kids (kids should be enjoying themselves and not worrying about how they look) and that if they have any worries or more questions that they should come straight to us to chat. We finished by telling them we love them both," he said.
And ultimately, Veer hopes other kids won't have the same experience his daughters did: "I wanted to see the wrapper question removed so other kids don't need to worry about their looks, either."