A lesson in the non-apology from Slimming World

1 Nov

The fauxapology, also known as the if-apology, is a technique commonly employed by politicians and PR Executives (and, in my experience, by sexists, racists, snobs and ex-romantic interests) to deny any responsibility for the statement, grievance, misdeed or behaviour displayed.

The non-apology merely shows that the non-apologiser is sorry that the aggrieved is requesting an apology, demanding compensation, or threatening retaliation. The non-apologiser shows no contrition, remorse or meaningful expression of regret for their actions. S/he admits nothing. Indeed, the non-apology is often employed to shift blame to the aggrieved, by implying that s/he has misunderstood the incident, is acting in an over-dramatic fashion, has no sense of humour or is over-sensitive. It is basically a way of saying FUCK OFF without saying fuck off.

Consider the following:

•    “I am sorry if you feel that way”
•    “I’m sorry if you are upset”
•    “I’m sorry if you can’t take a joke but most people think my antiquated racial slurs are hilarious”
•    “I’m sorry that your arse got in the way of my hand”
•    “I’m sorry that you interpreted my touchy-feely nature as groping”
•    The non-apology of Maria Kang (she of social media fame due to her mother-shaming “what’s your excuse?” photography, which went viral on facebook last week).

If you need a more in-depth case study in order to better understand the art of faux-apology, please find below Slimming World’s response to my complaint at their hideous mother-shaming marketing strategy:

Dear Joanna
Thanks for getting in touch regarding the Slimming World leaflet that you received. We’re really sorry to hear that you feel so upset by it, it’s certainly not meant to cause offence in any way.
We use our real members in our campaigns to genuinely reflect the positive changes that losing weight makes to their lives. Sara, the member who you refer to on our leaflet has genuinely said that she feels much happier, more confident and able to be the mum she always wanted to be. By losing weight, she says that she feels fitter and more able to run around and play with her children and that she’s also passing her healthier lifestyle on to her family.
At Slimming World we absolutely believe that your worth is not in your weight. It’s our goal to help people who wish to lose weight achieve the weight they want to be – our members choose their own target weight, and we support them to achieve it. Sara has now reached her target weight, which means that she is able to attend her Slimming World group free of charge to help her maintain her weight loss for life.
Once again, we’re sorry that you feel upset by our materials and thank you for taking the time to get in touch.
With best regards


6 Responses to “A lesson in the non-apology from Slimming World”

  1. Lesley November 1, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    But the so genuinely didn’t mean it. I wonder if ‘Sara’ genuinely does exist?

    • NaturalWoman November 1, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

      I imagine she does, and if she feels happier now then that’s great for her.

      But it doesn’t excuse Slimming World using the slogan “(now that I’m slim):..I can be the mum I’ve always wanted to be”. I think it plays on the insecurities of so many mums, and I’m convinced that these mums wouldn’t feel under-confident if the weight-loss industry marketeers, media (especially HEAT magazine etc. highlighting cellulite and flab of women celebrities) and other women and men stopped telling them they should be thinner.

      May be you are right that Slimming World really didn’t mean to be offensive. But if no one at Slimming World can see how this marketing strategy is slightly problematic, then that is worrying (then again, their entire business is built on women feeling bad about themselves, so I shouldn’t really be surprised I guess)!

  2. Lesley November 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    I was being sarcastic 🙂

    • NaturalWoman November 4, 2013 at 7:20 am #

      Ha! Sorry 🙂 I was thinking you must be a kinder and more forgiving person than me a d my angry ways

  3. NaturalWoman November 4, 2013 at 7:20 am #


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