Celebrity Weight Loss Wars Jennifer Hudson vs. Sara Rue

The diet industry is a billion dollar market. Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, Celebrity Fit Club, Slim Fast  – take your pick. Even Special K cereal promotes weight loss. While the two entertainers are not personally battling each other it’s a marked study in contrast the campaigns initiated by their corporate bosses Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig respectively.

These companies use a host of celebrity endorsements to entice us regular folks to buy their products all in the vain hope we will achieve our fantasy life – which we’re led to believe solely lies in fitting into the smallest clothing sizes possible. It’s also an incentive to getting the “good” life we think others are living. It’s a Never-Never Land of pixie dust, being fed grapes and living on perpetual vacation where the day-to-day stresses of life don’t have to be navigated.

It’s a lie.

Not to mention the diet plans for the two companies are vastly different. Jenny Craig’s opening page has a big advertisement about how much weight the paid endorser lost, whereas Weight Watchers talks about making better food choices. You still are required to pay into a plan of some sort but one seems to lean more toward lifesytle choice while the other is focused on quick results.

Jennifer Hudson completed three  (*now at least four as I saw a new one late last night)  commericals for Weight Watchers. The original three were shot at the same time but had slightly different messages. The one I saw last night was more recent because she looked even smaller.  While she of course mentions she’s lost weight and is fitting into smaller-sized clothes she doesn’t specifically mention dress sizes or pounds lost. That little tidbit has been saved for her magazine cover blitz where they make sure to mention Hudson has gone from a size 16 to a size 6.

I like the featured Weight Watchers ad the best out of the four. The marketing team did a great job of tying the message of being empowered with taking control of  those areas that need work. “Me Powered” is also a very positive message. Employing Jennifer Hudson as a spokeperson for triumph over adversity is a very sound – and easy – business decision.

On the other hand the tenor and direction of the Sara Rue Jenny Craig campaign has irritated me from the beginning. The “I’m miserable because I weigh X amount and now that I don’t I’m so happy” message is all too familiar. It also belies those with a history of yo-yo dieting versus those who make permanent changes. It takes five years of stability to determine whether that weight loss is going to be circumstance-based or not. Much of advertising pertains to encouraging people to try a product to be better, more clever and sanguine.

Jenny Craig’s previous spokesperson Valerie Bertinelli led a very successful campaign  because the actress was personally engaging and was cleaning up many aspects of her life. From surviving being a child/young adult television star to marrying rocker Eddie Van Halen she has led a very colorful life to say the least. It’s typical for people who’ve lived on the extreme to have things they need to address to be more balanced. As a mom in her 40’s who let herself go, the move to reorder her life was one many women would relate to. I’m not sure whether anyone actually believes buying their food is the key but when she revealed her bikini-ready body it was clear that she had been excercising and other things that generated the results she was looking for. Pow!

The Sara Rue ads leave a bad taste in my mouth due to the rather obvious self-loathing that underlies her weight loss. So we have to ask ourselves which came first, the fat shame or the magical thinking that being thin will guarantee a happy, conflict-free life? The pressure on women to conform to certain parmaters in a patriarchal society is brutal and unforgiving.


Sara Rue used to weigh considerably more when she starred on her own prime time show, Less Than Perfect and even prior to that like when she co-starred in films such as Girl Interrupted. Living in Hollywood and being in an industry where fitting into a size zero and taking extreme measures to look youthful are the norm. It can skew your perspective if you let it.  

So while I’m cheering for their success I also understand weight gain is the symptom of underlying causes like poor food choices or lack of exercise. It could also be indicative of  unresolved emotional upset. Even for those who do eat balanced meals and exercise the quality of food and the means by which it’s being produced today offers questionable nutritional value. The latest food recalls certainly bear that out.

It is neither beneficial to overcompensate average body size by offensive measures declaring any larger size is fine by using exceptions to the rule to replace the very real health concerns, nor pressuring women to be the size and shape of the average 12 year old boy. There are no easy solutions beyond reducing calories, exercising, securing the highest quality of food for the least amount of money as possible and getting one’s needs met. There are always exceptions to the rule but for the most part the choices are clear. Regardless we can still be productive members of society but let’s try to live our lives as burden-free as possible.

11 Replies to “Celebrity Weight Loss Wars Jennifer Hudson vs. Sara Rue”

  1. Yeah, but I always say anybody can lose weight, but not everybody can keep it off (to the delight of that billion dollar industry am sure). If a person has maintained their weight loss over a 5 year period or longer via a healthy diet regime, yeah, I want hear what they have to say, share the knowledge.

  2. I know someone who got on weight watchers in 2005 and I did atkins. We weight about the same, I might have been about 5 pounds heavier. Initially she loss more weight then me (we are both the same height). It's now 2010 she has added on 10 more pounds and I have maintain the same weight. Overall, I think we both did pretty good with maintaining our weight loss. She was committed to long-term changes and so was I. If you pick up 7 or 10 pounds work to remove it right away, don't me "okay" with it because when the next 7 or 10 pounds comes your way on top of what you've already gained….you won't be happy.

    Also, I don't put much stock into celebrity weight loss because when the weight loss company reps, trainers and babysitters are gone, and they have to maintain that weight loss on their own long-term, through all kinds of stress, emotions, physical changes or challenges, personal losses and successes, thats when the real test comes in and shows who was really committed to a lifestyle change.

    1. Of course celebrities have added incentives and are paid spokespeople for these companies. It's a billion-dollar industry after all. Still, I really liked Jennifer Hudson's ads and the chnages she's made in her life. Probably because I feel that she was the underdog and a "good" girl who made it on her talent despite many obstacles. She could be a total witch for all I know! I don't like the self-piting attitude of Sara Rue and never will. We need to be triumphant so that we can get to the success not the other way around.

  3. weight loss weight loss weight loss, what can i say. i have done all the diets going, even the ones where you dont eat, well sort of lol!

    discipline, self forgiveness, going for your dreams, they all play a part in the eventual victory and I agree with Tracy, sometimes it can really be about 'when will it end?', especially when you have set 'unrealistic goals' that you will loose all the weight in 6 months(another one for self forgiveness!).

    sometimes you want to close your eyes and wake up in 8 months when you are a size 6, but you have to go through it.

    another thing is your own personal weight loss character. i know I sometimes bearly loose a thing for a month or two and just when i give up and go to do that clothes shopping because i have just one skirt (and people are beginning to notice i am alway in the flaming pink A-line) then woosh, weight loss of two months and of course money loss on the new wardrobe that i will now not wear.

    i think gradually doing it and putting in the effort is the most important thing because you learn so much about your unique physiology and also your personal psychology and the little things about your personality that will serve you well for maintaining your weight in the future (eg for me dont even have any wine in the house lol and donoughts never tempt me).

    I am still on my own journey so i am sending out encouragement to anyone out there embarking on or still on a journey, a year goes by quickly and for most people, thats all it will take, in fact by the six month you are essentially a different you, if you are on a consistent and sensible weightloss slope, so by early next year someone starting now would have entrenched in their weight loss regime and seen good results, and i am a firm believer in using all the help and tricks in the book you can get!

  4. I am very proud of Ms. Hudson. To go all the way down to a size 6 is amazing, especially since she just had a baby. I wish I could do it. Losing weight is HARD. Hope she's able to maintain the weight.

  5. Well, I’m am biased on this one, because I have been successful using the WW plan. It does teach you how to eat and that food is not the enemy, but something you need to live, love and celebrate with. People can’t microwave their way thru life -- ya gotta have a piece of pie sometimes! lol!

    I’m torn on the issue of self-loathing tho. Sara is like me, she has lost weight and regained several times. And each time, you feel more out of control. Once you shed enough weight to make a big difference (several clothes sizes, looking like a completely different person) only to regain it, all you want is that moment back. And you get confused about what is really “you”. Am I supposed to be big? or do I have that little self control? Do I have the hunter-gather body type that requires me to exercise daily to maintain my loss?

    Yes, life should be more that a dress size, and for the most part it is. But I think that the biggest issue here is closure, or completion- when am I ever going to finish this chapter and go on the the next? Constantly starting over wears on the psyche -- thus causing the depression. Giving up and letting things be isn’t an option, because you know that you can change, you just haven’t figured out how to make the changes last. Coupled with the fact that the process of weight loss is like a drug: watching the scale to down, exercising , weighing and measuring food, very addictive rush. So, yes, I can understand Sara’s hang-dogging -- but she needs to have a good eating/exercise plan to make it last.

    I love how Jennifer Hudson looks and I love her “I can’t believe this is really me” facial expressions in her interviews. I hope for her and for myself, that this is the plan that will finally finish this chapter.

    1. Halima: I can relate to that desire to just be over the journey already..but what will we have learned? Personally, I don't diet so when I cut back on calories or increase my exercise I do lose weight. Discipline and self-forgiveness do go hand in hand but can be a double-edged sword at the same time. A year does go by much quicker than we realize if we can implement a new ritual and maintain it we have more options at our disposal. From learning a new language, to moving to a new area to even making seemingly small dietary changes like integrating more vegetables. I feel for you not being able to have wine around. That would kill me…I have to watch out for the desserts!

      Tracy: Thank you for your feedback. Some of those reading this post and your response may not know that you have been featured on the Weight Watchers site and have successfully lost a significant amount of weight. One of the reasons why I chose to write about celebrity weight loss and the overall push of the dieting industry is that I see that as an adjacent to the struggles of the average woman though some of the issues are universal. Thank you for sharing some of the internal dialog that goes on as well. It's an important area to explore. I know for me personally that if I start losing weight (without any concerted effort) it makes me feel out of control even if it's what I want. I wonder if that fear holds may of us back? There's a lot at stake and a lot to deal with when we try to change our external appearance for the better as well as whether those changes are in fact necessary or the extent of the benefits. Sometimes it's a fine line between making needed changes and veering into lollipop-head status.

  6. it is a sad state of affairs.

    it hurts because it hits home. my wife goes through the motions even though i worship her and find her to be the most attractive woman i know. it hurts to see her fall for the okie doke.

    i see alot of women battle this. and many cause further harm to themselves.

    1. Dan: It's hard to resist that draw! Plus what I forgot to write about until your comment triggered the memory was the celebs who make a living at playing the weight loss/gain/yo-yo dieting game. Aside from the personal srtuggles they have an added financial incentive to keep losing weight on the next "miracle diet" after they've regained the weight they temporarily loss from the last go-around. They haven't learned anything though. Other women have just given up.

      Norma: Welcome. A lot of people respect and admire Jennifer Hudson. She seems to have managed to avoid some of the mistakes other women make.

  7. I think both ladies have accomplished a great deal, but I got to go with Jennifer Hudson on this one. She is just amazing not only just as an artist, but as a person. I love her warm spirit and kind heart.

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