an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Weight Watchers: To Love Yourself

Posted by Rosepixie on June 2, 2010

This is a recent commercial for Weight Watchers featuring Jennifer Hudson (a singer/actress).

I actually really didn’t mind this commercial this much until she said that having lost weight “makes me love myself that much more”.  And that brought me up short.  At first glance, that statement isn’t so bad.  Great, she loves herself more now than she did before.  But if you think about what it’s telling the viewers, and more specifically the target audience of people who might want or need to lose some weight, it’s not such a great statement.  If losing weight is good because it will make you love yourself more, than that means that you aren’t as worthy of your own love until you lose that weight.

And that’s not a good message at all.  Because while I think Weight Watchers does a better job than most of showing healthy body shapes in their ads and not overly encouraging unhealthy body images, they aren’t in a vacuum.  Their sort of unspecific weight loss ads really only work because there’s so much other stuff in our media that tells us what “fat” is and when you need to lose weight (which, sadly, is pretty much all the time if you’re a woman).  And worse, Jennifer Hudson specifically has a lot of teenage fans, so using her as a spokesperson is going to get their attention more than if they had featured someone else.  And teenage girls already have a hard enough time learning that they can love themselves (even beyond concerns about body size or shape or anything).  Is it really a good idea to reinforce to them that they’d be more lovable if they looked different?

While I think that Jennifer Hudson could be a great spokesperson for Weight Watchers, I think that this one line makes this an incredibly irresponsible and potentially dangerous ad.  Even if it’s true for her that she loves herself more, that’s more indicative of the problems we have than something to be celebrated and passed on to other people.  It’s absolutely something worth talking about – but a thirty second ad spot isn’t long enough to do that in, nor is discussing such an issue the focus of an advertisement like this.  I think this is a pretty horrible ad and wish I could expect better from Weight Watchers.

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3 Responses to “Weight Watchers: To Love Yourself”

  1. Eva said

    There is an aspect of therapy to Weight Watchers. A good portion of meetings are spent talking about habits and the psychology behind them and how you as a group feel about yourselves. Part of the point is to break that cycle of self hate that leads to eating as a self-destructive escape behavior. That may have an impact on your weight, but it also has an impact on your self esteem. You understand yourself more clearly and you feel more in control of your life.

    I think the points you bring up are reasonable and they might have been able to handle the wording more delicately here. I’m just saying that Weight Watchers offers more than pure “drop pounds”. The rest of the package may not be the most effective way to capture people with their initial “draw you in” marketing, but it is there.

    • Rosepixie said

      I actually think that the therapy part of Weight Watchers is one of their strengths, but I think that the way it’s said here is really dangerous. I think the ad could have talked about the idea and perhaps even their offerings relating to self-esteem and self-destructive behavior in a way that was more helpful and not so problematic. I think it’s worth talking about, but tying self-worth to weight in such a way that it makes it sound like it’s supposed to be that way isn’t the way to do it, in my opinion.

      • Eva said

        As you pointed out, there are very bad connotations to what she’s saying. I agree with you that depending on how much this affects younger women it has the potential to be quite unpleasant.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is, I think it’s possible that it’s in the ad not because they want to encourage people to think they need to lose weight, but because they want to hook people who are miserable and unhappy with themselves, ie. the people who really need some kind of help. Whether the help they need is psychological or physical, what she says in the ad is tailored to offer them hope that they can find that help.

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