I don't watch the Superbowl. Generally speaking, professional sports don't get me excited, so unless I cave and go to a party, the Superbowl passes without much notice around here. However, I do pay attention when people mention commercials that they loved. This one came on my radar Monday morning.
You see, there's an issue in this country (and in other parts of the world) about body image. (Yes, there is also a problem with obesity, which I will touch on as well.) The images portrayed in the media (especially to women, but to men as well) as "good" and "attractive" and "right" are thin. Yes, they might have curves to go with, but they are thin. That's the ideal preached to the masses--including children. And now we're using a dog to do it.
I'm not saying thin is a bad ideal, but it's not the only "good" or "attractive" or "right" body shape. For a lot of people, thin is not attractive. And for a lot, it's not natural. You heard me right. I didn't say it isn't attainable, I said it's not natural. In the whole of humanity, there's a wide array of body shapes and sizes. Being skinny doesn't mean you are necessarily healthy and being big doesn't necessarily mean you're not. (The opposite, obviously, is true as well.) I have friends who are size 0s and 2s who can eat me under the table. (and I'm not talking about when I'm trying to behave, I'm talking ALL the time.) They are naturally thin. This is okay, but it's also okay that I'm not.
Back to the dog though...
Bolt, the star of the Volkswagen commercial is a mixed breed, specifically a St. Bernard/Australian Shepherd mix. A Saint Bernard is a dog that measures (on average for a male) about 31" at the withers and weighs 200 pounds. It is a big, bulky dog and it was bred to be that way. The Australian Shepherd, on the other hand, stand 21-22" (average for a male) and between 55-60 pounds. Ten inches in height difference and 140 pounds. It was bred to be that way. And both breeds are working breeds. St. Bernards are used to be guard dogs, rescue dogs, herding dogs and draft dogs for farmers in the Alps. Whereas Australian Shepherds were (obviously from the name) bred to herd sheep, which requires a different set of features and skills than the Saint Bernard. Neither one is "wrong" and neither one is "unattractive". They are what they are.
Yet we have no problem at all looking at someone whose genetics built them bigger than the "ideal" and suggesting a similar plan.
I'm not saying obesity is good. However, there are a lot of people out there who DO eat properly and DO exercise but genetics gave them a slower metabolism and a larger body size. Just like there are people out there who do the same things and because of their very rapid metabolism and smaller size, we label them as anorexic and tell them to eat a cookie. This needs to stop.
We need to stop equating size with health. We need to stop with the labels and the judgement. Find whoever you want attractive, but in so doing, you don't need to make others feel "less than". As for Bolt, he's a beautiful dog. But if you look at the pictures up there, so is the Australian Shepherd. And so are the Saint Bernards. And so is a Greyhound, and a Mastiff, and a Vizsla, and a Shar pei, and...