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Don't worry, macho men. Weight loss isn't girly (Thanks, Charles Barkley)

Are you a man on a diet?

Sorry, my bad. I should ask that question with a deep bass voice while hot rod engines rev and a heavy metal guitar shatters your ear drums. Maybe throw in some fireworks. Apparently, if you want to sell men on losing weight, you have to gussy up the idea to make it look like something only the toughest tough guys do.

Are we really this insecure?

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There's some grinding guitar accompanying former NBA player Charles Barkley in his new ads for Weight Watchers, which began airing on Christmas Day. Dressed all in black and standing against a black backdrop (colours are for women!), Barkley boasts that he's lost 23 lbs so far with Weight Watchers and then tells viewers the company's new tagline, "Lose like a man."

It's a step in a much more macho direction than Jason Alexander's pitchman work for Jenny Craig.

Marketers have seemed to learn that if you want to sell weight loss to men, you can't make it schlubby and self-deprecating. You need to make it hardcore! and manly! and drop and give me 20!

Just look at Dr. Pepper Ten, a soft drink that came out last fall with an advertising campaign trumpeting the tagline, "It's not for women." Yeah! Let's chug some low calorie soda and ride dirt bikes, fellas! Climb up in to the clubhouse and put the sign on the door. No girls allowed!

The can is painted gun metal grey (obviously) and all its packaging studiously avoids the term diet.

The commercial for the drink is ironic, of course, but it's also depressingly patronizing.

Sadly, the company that makes Dr. Pepper reportedly created the new drink after research found men avoid diet drinks that, as USA Today put it, "aren't perceived as 'manly' enough."

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Are men really so juvenile that we can be sold on a non-diet diet soda because we're told it's "not for women"?

It's something to think about while we chug beer cans and them crush them over our heads and chop down trees with our bare hands, because of course that's how we spend our time while drinking full calorie pop.

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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