Much like the way I handle my finances, I tend to deal with PR emails with the same pragmatism: By piling them straight into the trash, or as we say in England, the rubbish bin. Most PR emails contain a thread of exploitation, but especially so with health and food themed ones, and by the amount of these I receive daily, I’m either cursed or have had my email address spread across a few databases I didn’t agree to. I could count on one hand the amount of these emails that I have ever found remotely interesting, and frankly, since reading Sarah Knight’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, PR emails have landed in the pile of things I just don’t and can’t give a fuck about, and most seasonally it’s “healthy” Christmas PR emails that are due to feel my middle finger.
Firstly, let me specify why I hate PR emails, in case any PRs are here and willing to take notes. I hate them because I feel uncomfortable with people trying to make up stories in order to sell a product. I don’t like the dated language used, like, I don’t know…”us girls all know we like to look good”, I mean please. I don’t like the click-baity subject lines shouting at me in capitals. I don’t like it when they forget to put my name, instead addressing the email to “???”. And finally, I don’t like how all the PR emails concerning diet and health all assume that women want and need to lose weight.
I think that’s everything.
I get so many of these depressing emails, and I had been that implanted within diet culture for so many years, that I can predict what they will say before they land in my Inbox. They are trying to sell me an idea or a product that will “change my life”, or rather, make me thin. That’s it! They’ve hit the jackpot and they are letting me in on this little secret – this big story that will make my journalistic career fly. Since I delete all of these emails, unconvinced of their healing qualities, I had to have a rummage around in my “trash” folder in order to find a couple of examples to show you what I mean. I didn’t have to rummage far.
See exhibit A:
Here is an email from someone who very clearly has no idea what we do here at Not Plant Based. It’s trying to sell a “healthy” (first buzzword, check), “festive” (ahh, newsworthyness, check) recipe box, which is “100% gluten free” (trend alert), “dairy-free” (second buzzword, woot!) in order to help me “avoid the Christmas bulge” and to “eat, drink and be merry without the guilt”.
Fiiiirrrsssstttt offffff aaaaaallll!
I find it very insulting that an email would make assumptions about my fear of getting a “Christmas bulge”, and that I couldn’t possibly enjoy myself during the festive season without an overwhelming sense of guilt. Guilt which happens to be perpetuated by emails just like this one. Secondly, I find it even more insulting that a business would try to capitalise on this. In case you were still being kept in the dark, diet culture is a big business, and we are taught to hate ourselves for the financial gain of others. Bare this in mind while I bring up Exhibit B.
Here we go:
Nothing gets pulses racing and palms sweating like the number on the scales, right PR enthusiasts? In fact, any numbers are good fuel for the self-hatred fire. This emailer knows this, and lets me know that throughout December I will be eating an extra “174 calories” a day and will “consciously” put on around “five pounds”. Yikes! Pass me the Quark already!
Buzzfeed has embedded the importance of putting things into neat lists for media purposes, and look! Here is an email giving me six digestible tips to help me achieve my “healthier Christmas”. The only trouble here is, the tips are boring, needless, regurgitated and totally against all the joys of Christmas. I digress.
Smh. Smfh. I’ll admit that I did not read the other tips because I have better things to do with my time, but these two tips out of the six leapt out at me as they must appear on every single healthy eating listicle I have ever had the displeasure of reading. The first: Have a good breakfast. Make time for breakfast, will you. Have a good breakfast, numb nuts. Breakfast is a superfood, remember? And the most important meal of the day! And will make you skinny! And blah blah blah. But careful…make sure it’s healthy! Porridge, a vegetable omelette or wholemeal toast, please!
Porridge, a vegetable omelette or wholemeal toast? If you think I am eating fucking porridge on fucking Christmas Day, you need to get out of my fucking face. Lol.
Next: “Snack on fruits and nuts”. Sorry, “fruits, nuts and seeds”. Seeds? On Christmas Day? Are you fucking kidding me? “Hey Laura, would you like to open your Chocolate Selection box before 10am?” “No thanks, I’ve already filled up on porridge and sunflower seeds!” Please, if you ever hear those words come out of my mouth, on any day but in particularly Christmas Day, please slap me silly and bin my sunflower seeds. I’ll thank you later.
Also, why do I need a “boost” on Christmas Day? Am I planning to go to work? To run a marathon? No. I am planning to get drunk by midday and have three naps. I am well up for spending my day feeling “sluggish”.
This was me last Christmas, my pale skin camouflaged against the pink skin of our pre-roasted turkey.
Look at that face. Does that look like the face of someone who wants to bin their turkey, pigs in blankets, four kinds of potato dishes and Christmas pudding in favour of a handful of nuts? No it fucking doesn’t. Give me gravy. Give me smoked salmon. Give me ham boiled in cider. Give me more cider! Give me Baileys on ice. Give me presents. Give me paper hats and cheap crackers. Give me a plastic tree with decade-old decorations. Give me family. Give me caramelised onions. Give me stuffing. Give me yule log with heavy cream. Give me sprouts (but only a couple). But don’t you dare give me anymore bullshit emails assuming I’m due a Christmas of misery because a few wobbly surveys, created in order to sell an idea that skinny is best, suggest I’m not allowed to enjoy the festive food I’ve been looking forward to all year.
Fuck off and let me have my merry, indulgent Christmas.
(To conclude, if any PR companies want to pay me to teach them how to create emails of genuine interest to journalists without recycling damaging content, you’ll find my email address in my Twitter bio. Lol.)