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.