Thursday, April 21, 2011

Got Milk? Got Mucus?

Got Milk? Got Mucus?

Mothers have been telling their children to drink their milk for decades. In fact, it has been forced upon them as if it is some miracle liquid. There is a sense of pride a mother feels as her kids guzzle the last drop. They feel great knowing they are providing such wonderful nutrition to their kids. In fact, they feel guilt if their children DON’T drink it. If they question the health benefits of milk, they are branded as “ignorant” or even “cruel.” But why would they question it? Don’t we all know that “Milk does a body good?”  It does do a baby’s body good, but why do we as adults buy into that?  Babies are supposed to drink milk until they double their birth weight, but we are the only species to sport “milk mustaches” into adulthood. This brings me to the ad that caught my attention and the marketing campaign that has convinced millions that milk is crucial to your health.  Who funded this ad?  Who conducted the studies proving milk is beneficial and even necessary? The Dairy Industry.  They spend a half billion dollars each year convincing us that you can be slimmer, smarter, stronger, and sassy if you just drink that glass of milk.
The “Got Milk” ad portrays many people (usually famous) standing there with a tennis racket, a guitar, or in a bikini, and on their top lip is an adorable, youthful milk mustache.  The words next to the ads remind you that by drinking milk you are going to ward off osteoporosis, and obesity. Oh, and you will be a sex pot to boot.  Healthy and hot-what more could you ask for?  One specific ad I was reading has Elizabeth Hurley lying in the sand with a skimpy swim suit on.  Her hair is flowing all around her and she is lying there surrounded by little footprints and a shovel and pail.  Her hands are behind her head and she is smiling slightly. The ad reads
“Shocked I am a mom?”
She looks alluring and appealing. She seems to be begging you to come and get her. But who is she drawing in?  Who are the advertisers are trying to convey a message to?  What is this ad trying to say to us? It seems there is more than one message behind this campaign.  In the book Writing Analytically, Rosenwasser and Stephen state that one way to draw out the hidden meaning in something is to make the implicit, explicit. To take what is suggested and make it overly stated. ( p. 6)   I can look at this ad and make a quick summary of it by what I see in the forefront, but when I look at the details of the photo and what is being implied, then I am able to better understand what it being said.  
 I don’t think men are the audience being targeted here. They don’t care if they look amazing in a swim suit. Kids are not the obvious target. They don’t drink their milk in hopes of becoming sexy. Women are the ones who are being appealed to. The message behind the innocent milk mustache is if you drink this, you will transform from the plain housewife into a sex goddess. You will be beautiful and magnetic. So what if you end up with a ridiculous milk mustache on your top lip? Men will want you!  They want you to believe that milk is the key to being desirable. Never mind the fact that the Dairy Industry is releasing most of the studies claiming milk as a weight loss tool.  Milk is designed to turn a 45 lb calf into a 400 lb cow but that fact wouldn’t bring in the bucks.
They skew facts to fit their agenda, and they are free to do so because they have such a huge budget. They have been so successful in this campaign that hardly anyone thinks to question their credibility. They have swayed a whole culture into believing what they say is fact. They have tempted you with beauty and scared you with the threat of brittle bones.
This ad would be harmless if not for the fact that milk can actually be harmful to you. What are the ramifications of this ad? The sheer amount of milk people ingest causes some to shudder.
Mike Adams, editor of Natural News conducted an interview with Robert Cohen, author of “Milk, The Deadly Poison.”  He claims it is downright dangerous to ingest dairy products, especially milk. It is packed with calories, hormones, and carcinogens.  He says milk causes so much mucus in your body, that when you give milk up you can lose three pounds of mucus alone. It is linked to sinus problems, rashes, stomach cramping, allergies, heart disease and even cancer. There are many studies that show milk can actually deplete calcium from your bones.  It also makes you smell bad. The Japanese have coined a term for Americans. They call us the” Butter People” because they can smell the rotten dairy seeping from our pores.  I couldn’t help but wonder which deodorant Elizabeth Hurley wore to keep the photographer from gagging? Or how about taking a picture of a man wearing a milk mustache on his way into a triple bypass surgery?
I bring the opposing view up only to show the incredible success of this ad. Even though there is sufficient alternating evidence showing that milk is not a healthy substance for people, the Dairy Industry has convinced us otherwise. Fear is a strong motivator in advertising.  If a parent walks into a room and says her children are not allowed to drink milk, they are viewed as irresponsible.  Parents buy milk without thinking twice. If you think your bones and your children’s bones will snap in half unless you consume milk, you will never be without it. They also use sexism to draw you in. If beautiful celebrities are looking at you with with a white upper lip and a rock hard body, you will toss a gallon of milk in your cart at each grocery visit.  “Milk, It Does A Body Good,” was a brilliant angle to use for health and beauty conscious Americans.
Interpreting these messages is important so we can find the real meaning behind what is being shown to us.  We need to view these ads analytically before we spend our money and form opinions about products.  The “Got Milk” ad hides it’s agenda behind beautiful celebrities, and doe-eyed children.

  They manipulate with the threat of disease.
They entice with the promise of beauty.
                 I am a mom, and a woman. I want my kids to be healthy, and I happen to want to look sexy, but I question the fact that a glass of milk will produce those results.  The Dairy Industry is making huge health statements that are backed up by their gigantic budget and their own agenda.  Milk is big business.  And it’s become the cultural norm to drink it every day, with every meal.  It takes a lot of critical thinking to see past it all, and find the real intent of this advertising masterpiece.


  1. Yes, and funny how milk is "sooo good", but as soon as a mom tries to breastfeed past a year, she's considered "weird", even though that is milk that is meant for humans!

  2. We drink milk, but I don't push it like I push water. Don't know if we will stop drinking it, but love the article! I can't seem to get over the picture of the cow, or the deodorant comment. Too funny!!

  3. Jodi, we use milk for cereal although I am slowly switching to coconut milk. We also eat dairy, but that doesn't mean I don't wonder all the time if it's doing more harm than good. I am pretty much anti milk, but more than that, I am anti Dairy Industry! :)

  4. We don't drink milk and haven't for about 3-4 years- we do drink Almond milk or Coconut milk. I LOVE me some cheese, and have it in moderation and make sure it is natural, not pasturized, blah, blah, blah.Two days ago I had a huge craving for a glass of milk and a peanutbutter-jelly sany, so I got a small carton and had a glass of milk with ice in it and it tasted so good! However, the remainder of the day and into the next day, I had a horrible headache and sinus/mucus issues. NO more milk for me - I enjoyed the article Michelle,and always look forward to your blog postings.I am so proud of you for taking on college (especially with a new baby)and look forward to watching your writing progress and mature. Saying NO to little white mustaches!