What you just watched (if you chose to do so I will not force you) was a new Weight Watchers commercial from Oprah Winfrey. Plenty has been said on it but as someone who used to pay Weight Watchers a monthly fee I feel this overpowering need to speak out on what I feel is a huge contradiction in their new campaign.
This past summer Weight Watchers had a 12-week promotion called “Get Happy!” Here are the screen shots from the flyer.
I’d like to draw particular attention to the week of July 26th thru August 1st. It says “Identify one negative thought you have about your body and practice replacing it with a positive thought.” Oprah’s message undermines this ideal.
Here are the two most troubling quotes from the commercial.
“Inside every overweight woman, is a woman she knows she can be,” Oprah says.
The number one glaring problem with this statement is she is only talking to women. I admit. I joined Weight Watchers back in June 2014. I joined with my mother. I used to go with her every Sunday until I started spending more time with my boyfriend on the weekends. Yes there were mainly women but there were also men. Some of the men in attendance were the biggest weight losers I have seen. There is this misconception that weight is only a problem for women and is hardly geared towards men.
The second issue with this statement is the assumption that overweight women can’t be who they are right now in this very moment. This is reiterated in my biggest issue of Oprah’s message.
“Many times you look in the mirror and you don’t even recognize your own self, because you’ve gotten lost, buried in the weight that you carry.”
So I am not me until I get out from under the weight I am hiding under? This. This right here invalidates the “get happy” summer program. It is a dangerous message. It takes away from the love yourself movement. The happier now = weight loss mentality. She is telling people that they are not themselves because they are fat. That they are not validated until they lose the weight from which your true self is hiding under. I cannot get behind this statement. It goes against everything I’ve grown to believe in.
When I look in the mirror I see me. I see my true self staring back. I see a beautiful, strong, resilient human being who has been dragged through the mud long enough. No matter what my weight is I will see the same person. I am neither lost nor buried under a number on the scale. I am more than that. And so is everyone. If she is insecure about herself she shouldn’t be trying to project that unto others.
So what is with this change? How can Weight Watchers go from promoting being happy to teaming with Oprah to drag us back down?
MONEY! It is the driving force to everything! The reason any changes are made. Weight Watchers saw a plunge in their bottom line so they teamed up with Oprah who bought a 10% stake in the company and a seat at the table “work[ing] closely with executives to formulate programs they hope will lead to a turnaround.” (Yea… this sounds like firm ground… what happened to science?)
They don’t care about your health. They care about their bottom lines. Why would you want to pay 45 dollars a month for access to their e-tools when you can download free apps such as My Fitness Pal. A friend of mine lost over 60lbs using that app. Also why would you want to buy their subscription to ActiveLink which costs an additional 5 dollars a month on your e-tools account?? I paid for my FitBit once and that was it. I can use it for free to track my activity. (Yes I know you can sync your fitbit with your e-tools…this was a comment on their ActiveLink).
Here is some information I have gathered from reading up on the collaboration between the two industry giants. (Yes I know it is from the NY Post but every article says that same stuff about the financials.)
The cash spun off the company’s operations fell 82 percent in the nine months ended Oct. 3 from the same period two years earlier.
Revenue dipped 20 percent between 2012 and 2014, regulatory filings show, as membership fell to 800,000 last year from 1.4 million in 2008.
The stock was down 27 percent this year through midday Tuesday, but as social media picked up on the Winfrey ad, the stock rallied and closed up 7 percent, at $19.37.
In the same article the Chief Executive James Chambers is quoted as saying:
“Our overall recruitment is down…. We have struggled to add members in recent years [even though] obesity is a growing problem.”
So I guess promoting happiness wasn’t working. These diet companies sell people insecurities to beef up their own pockets. I can’t support that. I have the tools to live a healthier life. I don’t need Oprah Winfrey belittling me and telling me I’m lost under my weight. I’m right here! Loud and proud!