Diet Coke thinks I’m extraordinary? Well isn’t that refreshing!

I saw this advertisement last Friday whilst out on my lunch break:

My immediate reaction?

I think I can in a can? Or I think I’m fat in a can?


Now, full disclosure: I drink diet Coke. I drink diet Pepsi, or Pepsi Max or Coke Zero, or whatever other aspartame-infused sodas you care to name. And as any of you who have been reading this blog for a while now, I have no qualms at all about admitting this fact.

My drinking patterns are sporadic – I’ll go for a couple of months without a sip, and then start drinking two to three cans a day without so much as blinking an eyelash. These habits are something I’m cognizant of, but not something of which I lend much weight.

Apologies to any Colorado Avalanche fans out there, but in the words of Todd Bertuzzi*: it is what it is.

(*Now I’m no fan of Mr. T. Bert by any stretch of the imagination – or as I like to call him: Hobo with a Slapshot – he’s just the first thing that pops into my mind whenever I think of that turn of phrase.)

However, to get back to diet Coke and my relationship with this product- the fact remains the same: this penchant I have for these drinks is one of the last remaining holdovers from the years I spent as an anorexic and bulimic.

And because of this, I have a hard time disassociating these drinks from a very painful, very unhealthy part in my life.

Now I know there are tons of men and women who live all across the globe, who lead perfectly healthy lives (or within the parameters of “healthy” – as goodness knows the definition of this term seems to be malleable as heck) who may drink a diet Coke every now and then.

Who knows, maybe there are individuals out there who shot-gun the stuff all the live long day that have zero food/body hang-ups (not to mention faulty brain wiring – like those cats who eat chalk and pillow stuffing), but I would be hard pressed to believe it.

However, of this I’m sure: people ingest things for a whole myriad of reasons, and it would be naive, and rather asinine on my part to assume that because I a.) had an eating disorder and b.) drank these drinks during this time in my life that c.) all people who drink diet pop have eating disorders.

That would be a gross misinterpretation of the Pythagorean Theorum. And a logical fallacy. And just plain silly.

However, it would also be silly of me to ignore the fact that I live in a society that is majorly messed up when it comes to diet, body perception, and self-esteem – indeed, every time I seem to open an newspaper (HAH! Like that ever happens – excuse me, I meant to say: every time I surf on over to the NYT or Globe and Mail or I am told again and again about how obsese/anorexic/sendentary/over exercised/stressed out/insecure we are as North Americans, and how we need to fix it using ABC without having to give up XYZ.

It’s madness.

Just the other day I read about a new study released by Emery University in Atlanta Georgia that found that the number of U.S. children who drink sugar-free beverages has doubled in the past decade and that one-quarter of the adult Americans surveyed said they’d had a diet drink in the past day.

And reading this, I cannot help but question what role diet Coke (and by proxy its marketing stratagems and campaigns) plays within our omnipresent constant shame/constant gratification Franken-culture.

Sure, diet Coke isn’t exactly Airstrip One’s Victory Gin, but it’s not small potatoes either. And as such, when I see this ad, I don’t see personal empowerment in a can, I see this:

Have your Coke friend! But statistics tell me that you’re probably fat – or in some way aesthetically unappealing (or at the very least you THINK you’re not good enough!) so don’t have a real Coke (those are only for Olympic athletes and Mark Ronson) – have a diet Coke instead! But it’s totally your decision to drink it – and totally not ours, and certainly not a reaction to cultural norms! YOU’RE taking charge, YOU know what you want! Just one sip and you can take on the world, calorie-free!

(But first, go to the gym, because you totes need to work out first.)

Okay, so this may be a bit over-dramatic and a bit too sardonic – my m.o. might be to approach this dialogue with a heavy hand (heavy tongue?) but I can’t help it.

My experience colours my perception, and this is my honest interpretation.

And for that I will not apologize.

What about you folks? What kind of reaction does this sort of advertisement evoke on your end of things? Do you drink diet pop? Why or why not?

In the mean time I’m going back to my I KNOW I can in a bag:


Published by

Vanessa Woznow

Writer, runner, ranter, reader. I write about all things.

27 thoughts on “Diet Coke thinks I’m extraordinary? Well isn’t that refreshing!”

  1. I’m a dietCokeaholic. The first step is admitting I have a problem, right? I’m certain that I started drinking it for the calorie-free thing, but now I hate how sweet regular sodas taste. I don’t do diet lemony sodas on a regular basis. The only one of these I like is Diet 7-Up. Anyway, I’m guilty of buying into th whole diet Coke culture.

    1. It is really interesting how we perceive the way things taste. I find diet sodas to be unpalatable because of how sweet they are (aspartame is definitely sweeter than sugar; that is a science fact) but when I was younger I always found regular sodas too sweet.

      But perhaps it is a location issue as well. In my normal life, I live in South Jersey and Pepsi tastes good here. But when I was in The United Kingdom; it tasted terrible. It turned out that it had more sugar and less caffeine (which aside from being the God Particle that CERN is looking for; also adds bitterness) and was absolutely cloying. The diet Pepsi there tasted much more like what I was used to Stateside.

      1. Too true. When we lived in the UK I very drank little pop (I think this may be a Canadiana thing – we say “pop” instead of “soda”) because I couldn’t stand the taste it! Especially diet pop – OMG the sense memory of the first time I drank a tesco-brand diet cola absolutely destroys me. BLARGH.

        When I wasn’t drinking water I was drinking tea like a madwoman – total addict (up to 15-20 cups a day depending on my school workload. Was turning Orange Pekoe.)

        1. I am not sure pop is a Canadian thing. When I was a lad I lived in Chicago and we always called it pop or Sodapop (I capitalized that cause that drink is Ponyboy’s brother and deserves some respect). It wasn’t until I moved East that I realized the horror and evil that calling it pop brings about (mostly, you get made fun of for being weird).

          My stay in the UK was decidedly shorter than yours so I would have to say I mostly drank beer and cider (like Pokemon; I had to try them all). Plus I was desperately trying to avoid the English Montezuma’s Revenge, I think the symptoms manifest themselves as stodginess and a stiff upper lip which is a great deal better than the Mexican varietal but I was determined to dodge that bullet nonetheless. I did find a great soda/pop in Scotland; it was a Jamaican Fire-Ginger Beer. It tasted exactly as one would imagine fire-ginger should taste as long as one doesn’t imagine the taste to be Rupert Grint.

          1. You and my husband both! He was on a beer quest, it was madness (especially because he found out at the time that he was allergic to most of them.) I mostly stuck to ciders and cheap-o wine (hello Tesco 3 pound brand.)

            You entire second paragraph is so full of win I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll just continue laughing here on my own.

          2. Does he have a hops allergy or possibly coeliac? I had a buddy who had a hops allergy and would get sick everytime he drank beer. He quit drinking it entirely and started brewing his own ciders (his pumpkin cider was the bees knees). Oddly; he moved out West about a year ago and all of his allergies kind of miraculously vanished so he can drink beer again. I found a few English-style ales that were brewed without hops (they tended to be rather sweet but still decent) and I can try to find the brands if that is the problem.

            Alternately, if he is a coeliac sufferer, a lot of microbreweries have started making sorghum and/or millet based beers. I haven’t yet tried them but I’ve heard good things (I always get distracted by a trippel or some insanely strong IPA and forget to try the new stuff).

            And thank you for feeding my ego; it is a hungry little bugger.

          3. He’s digestive system on the whole is pretty bunged up and ridiculously sensitive – he cannot go anywhere near corn or potatoes, and wheat-based beers just destroy him. Really dark bitters are pretty much the only things that wont totally mess him up, but even now he mostly sticks to other types of alcohol if the mood strikes him (no potato based vodkas though!)

            Millet based beers sound crazy! I think I might have to find some of those and we’ll conduct an experiment.

          4. Gotcha. I’ve pretty much been in possession of an iron based stomach for most of my life; but I cannot stomach most seafood. Fish get in every so often (though these days mostly by mistake) and it seems like I’ve been binge drinking for a week straight within the hour. Pretty much nothing I can do keeps it down and it tastes worse coming up than going down.

            Let me know what you find regarding the millet based beers; I’m very interested but there are just too many good beers these days for me to try everything; especially without a recommendation.

          5. Oh god, that sounds absolutely awful. I too have a pretty strong constitution. I’ve been a vegetarian pretty much my entire life (well, up until about five years ago anyway when I started eating fish/crab/shrimp – BUT NO MOLLUSKS OR BIVALVES OR WHATEVER BECAUSE GROSS.)

    2. And there is nothing wrong with that! Like I said – I drink it too. I just try to make sure that I remain aware of how my choice in drinks plays into (or is a reflection) of a much bigger picture.

      I’m not a huge fan on lemony sodas – although I love lemonade and limeade. My absolute favourite though is cream soda. Because I am twelve years old.

  2. StayExtraordinary…sounds a bit like a yearbook dismissal/sign off–Love you like a sister don’t ever chaaaaange!

  3. Haha of course Diet Coke thinks you’re extraordinary! Hmm, I don’t really drink diet sodas of any kind. I feel like that soda is soda, and when I drink it I’d rather just go hard and get the complete experience. Haha, but these kinds of ads aren’t even around where I’m at…so I don’t really know what I think about them yet.

    1. I was actually thinking about this when I was writing this post. I know every time I’ve encountered Coke Light (France, Russia, Greece, Germany) I felt less weird about drinking it – as though the word “light” lends a greater legitimacy to my choice, because it has less of a negative connotation (for me, anyway.)

  4. You’re funny Eth. Most of the time I do not drink diet sodas because they are full of chemicals… I have been trying to be “cleaner and greener” (as I sometimes write about in my second blog)…but, because I don’t drink alcohol or smoke or do anything else in that arena that may be considered a “vice”… I will, on a rare occasion, drink a diet cherry coke zero, or coke zero…. or a diet pepsi. But for the most part I try to avoid them. In my opinion they are crap. =)

    And don’t artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking it’s consuming something sweet, so your body goes about trying to digest something sweet, so it overproduces insulin or something? Let me find a link….. hmmmm…. Here: …. ok, so it has to do with the bacteria in your gut… not that this is from the mayo clinic or anything… but it makes sense to me… Sorry for the ramble!!

    1. Never be sorry! I love your comments. (And both of your blogs!)

      I’d definitely heard something similar about diet drinks pretty much having the exact same effect on your body as regular pop. My friend Chelsea is a personal training and hard-core triathlete and she is always lambasting my choice to drink them.

      And hey – anything in moderation is cool. Like I said, I have a storied past with these drinks too – whether I’m drinking them is almost second to the fact that I just want to make sure that I remain aware of all the different angles that inform my relationship with them.

      1. ha ha, I’m not really sorry =). I get where you’re going with the whole marketing angle though. I guess because I don’t use the products that often I just don’t think about their marketing as much… or maybe because I work in the advertising/marketing field I look at ads (as a whole) in a different way.

        Thinking about this just made me think about the trailer I saw for a documentary today….

  5. I stopped drinking all soda a few years ago, as I cleaned up my eating habits it just stopped tasting good to me. But every time I see a Coke or Pepsi ad I noticed that they make me a bit too aware of myself. Like with this ad, I start to wonder if they’re suggesting that I can’t accomplish something without their magic elixir. What if I’m missing something? And my logical mind can discount these things, but I don’t really like how something so small preys on my internal insecurities (insecurities partially put in place but an overly self-conscious culture).

    1. Totally spot on. The level of self-awareness that you have is awesome, and totally a boon in a world where we are constantly bombarded with negative advertisement and portrayals of the “ideal.”

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