First things first: I am not against people losing weight. I try to do it myself roughly every day! I believe people should do whatever the hell they want if it’s healthy, and I truly don’t think any of the women I’ve referenced have lost weight unsafely. Moving on.
“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new LIIIIFE!” Jennifer Hudson feels good really often, and sings about it a lot on TV. She used to be a bigger gal, as you may know. Thanks to Weight Watchers (POINTS PLUS!) she has dropped quite a few pounds, and they are paying her probably a lot of money to belt it out to audiences everywhere. She even has her family in on it now - her cousins are featured in one of the new commercials, having lost some weight themselves. Yay for them. Yes, J Hud is still singing about Feeling Good in the background. Dang, I wish one of my cousins would hook me up with such a deal.
Similarly, Marie Osmond of all people has sung the praises of Nutri System, doing super peppy mini interviews with women who have lost weight, asking them all about their insecurities and self hatred, and how Nutri System changed ALL of that just by delivering them delicious meals right to their doorstep!
The other big celebrity whorehound is Jenny Craig, with perhaps the most endorsers of them all - over the years we’ve had Kirstie Alley, Valerie Bertinelli, and Sara Rue. The first two women were shown giggling with each other about competing in weight loss, while lately Sara Rue has gone from filming commercials in a dress, then skinny jeans, and now a bikini. She slinks beside a pool in a bathing suit, touching her own skin a weird amount and talking about how awesome and sexy she feels.
I have special individual problems with each of these commercials, but there are some overarching themes that apply to all. Number one, as Kirstie Alley has shown, it is really, really, really, really easy to regain a lot of weight you’ve lost. These women are PAID to keep this weight off, and I think that sends the wrong message to normal ladies who don’t have that motivation to continue whatever weight loss program they’re on. Yes, Valerie Bertinelli can get up there and tell me about how her whole life has changed since losing weight - but at the end of the day, someone’s paying her to be in this commercial. So at the end of a really rough day, when Valerie heads home and wants nothing more in life than a big plate of fried Chinese goodness, she doesn’t just have the, “Yeah I probably shouldn’t eat that” voice in her head. She has the “Damn, I won’t get my sweet ass payday if I enjoy this deliciousness” voice too. Would I be able to resist temptation more if someone were paying me to? Who knows, but it sure as hell wouldn’t hurt!
The other problem I have is the fixation on getting “sexy’ rather than getting healthy or happy. Yes, the women are all smiling, and yes, they do talk about Feeling Good (or sing about it), but all of the musical wonders in the world can’t deny that they get into short dresses and bikinis to tell America how awesome their lives are now. It’s this overt sexualization of weight loss that really pisses me off. In her most recent commercial, Sara Rue doesn’t even look happy - she’s posing uncomfortably by the side of a pool, sucking in her gut, and forcing a smile for the camera. It made me sad more than anything the first time I saw it. Skinny girls can wear muumuus too, Jenny Craig! Throw Valerie Bertinelli in some age appropriate clothing, and you’d have a very different ad campaign on your hands.
Overall, I just think weight loss should be a personal motivated choice, and should be about getting healthy and okay with who you are. Sara Rue’s first commercial - about skinny jeans - referenced how she used to be too uncomfortable in her own skin to leave her house. That is a real, tangible concern, and it’s great that she’s not in that place anymore - I just don’t think she needed to hop into a hot pink two piece to prove the point.