Taylor Swift has joined forces with Diet Coke, and I really hope she just doesn’t know what she’s doing. Because if you think that kids in American are becoming too unhealthy, it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
Taylor Swift has 39,003,589 likes on her Facebook page. And Coca-Cola — whose Diet Coke Facebook page has a mere 1,985,186 — wants some of those fans. And so, Taylor will now be the new face of Coca-Cola’s diet soda. She will stand up to the youth of America with a winning smile and a can of Coke in her hand, claiming it as her “first love.” And millions of young girls around the country will be begging their parents to buy them Diet Coke because, when we’re young and we have idols, we want to do everything that they do.
And many parents aren’t helping the problem. Too many adults in American are undereducated about food and overweight because of it. Or maybe they’re educated about food but just don’t care enough to change. And that’s fine. There are things that I do that are probably unhealthy that I don’t really want to change anytime soon. My propensity to eat an entire pack of Mint Oreos by myself comes to mind.
But here’s the thing. I don’t let my three-year-old eat an entire pack of Mint Ore0s (which, in my defense, happens only on the very rare occasion that we even have processed cookies in the house). I may not make the best decisions for my health 100 percent of the time, but you’d better believe that I want what’s best for my kid.
And what’s best for my kid is to drink water, juice, milk. To stay away from junk and eat more fruits and vegetables. To grow up healthy and happy, so that when my daughters hit adolescence, they’ll only have to worry about teen tragedies like acne and crushes, instead of being bullied for their weight.
While I know that celebrities like Michael Jackson, Brittany Spears, Pink, and Beyonce have all promoted soda companies at one time or another, there’s something different about squeaky clean Taylor Swift being added to the line-up. Taylor Swift’s image is that of an innocent, all-American girl who dreams that anything is possible. She evokes the feeling of “I want to be just like her” to pretty much every girl in America, as evidenced by her overwhelming success. By signing with Diet Coke, Taylor is unwittingly — I hope — spreading her influence on young girls to an area that I think she has no business in. In an age where childhood obesity and diabetes is on the rise, squeaky clean Swift has no business using her power to spur kids toward unhealthy choices.
The Coca-Cola Corporation knows that if they can get children hooked to their product early in life, they will have a life-time consumer. The problem is this: Kids who drink soda grow up to be adults who drink soda, and adults who drink soda are sick. And adults aren’t helping the problem, because too many adults are sick from what they are putting in their bodies. Too many adults aren’t helping their kids make smart choices in regards to food and nutrition. Too many adults are letting celebrities like Taylor Swift set the precedent for what our kids what to eat, drink, wear, say, and listen to.
And while a 10-year-old schoolgirl wanting to dress like Taylor Swift may not be an issue that last for more than a few years, a young child’s early addiction to soda can have an affect of their health for the rest of their lives.
Diet soda has been proven to increase depression, make us more hungry, even lead to quicker levels of intoxication when mixed with alcohol. It has been linked to heart disease and heart attacks. There have even been studies linking children’s violent behavior to soda consumption. And while New York’s ban on regular soda is a step in the right direction, the aspartame in diet soda will now be consumed in even greater quantities, and isn’t going to help the city’s health issues at all.
While some are applauding Taylor for at least endorsing the diet version of the popular soda, I am not one of those people. Because I know too much. Diet soda is bad for you. And while Taylor Swift might not know enough to research the product that she’s promoting, the Coca-Cola Corporation knows exactly what its doing taking on the young star as the face of its brand. Coca-Cola has shown the world that the bottom line is business, and business is all that matters. I don’t expect a major food corporation to have my best interests in mind. But I do expect them to have at least a tiny bit of moral conscience when it comes to targeting kids who aren’t old enough to know better.
In this world of fast-food, chemical additives, and just plain laziness, it’s hard to be a healthy adult. It’s even harder to raise healthy kids.
Shame on Coca-Cola for making it worse.
Below, you can watch NBC News and Huffington Post blogger Laurie Davie discuss Taylor’s new campaign and the potential impact it has on the youth of America.