Photo Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty
Last week we learned that Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson is the latest spokesperson for Weight Watchers. Among the reasons: She hopes to set a positive, healthy example for her 7-month-old son (though she never actually cries out about the "baby weight" so many celebs seem to attack with serial killer ferocity.) It’s a completely valid desire, but by the public response, you’d think the woman had agreed to be the spokesperson for the American Coalition for Helpless Puppy Electrocution:
"This is really pissing me off. Not just the weight loss endorsements, but also women like Kate Winslet and Drew Barrymore getting skinny. Grrrr! Be okay with being curvy." – Joy on Yahoo’s Shine
“Even if this one ad is an improvement, she's still promoting a company that makes its fortune off of (mostly) women's body shame.” – lizae on jezebel.com
“She doesn't look like herself anymore... i mean i am glad when celebs want to slim down for "health" reasons but a lot of the time it’s a vanity thing followed by greed. i hope she doesn’t get too skinny... she’s supposed to be thick!” – Miss Amanda on Yahoo’s Shine
“Weight Watchers is about losing weight, not being healthy. No matter how they choose to spin it. Otherwise, there would be fitness tests and blood draws instead of weigh-ins at the weekly meetings.” –talynn on jezebel.com
That last comment is in reference to the fact that, like Queen Latifah before her, Hudson is not announcing how many pounds she’s lost, focusing on health over the scale.
On Shine, they blogged about how every "curvy" girl winds up a Jenny Craig spokesperson, sending the message that it's OK to be bigger so long as you eventually vindicate yourself via organized weight loss. Honestly, I wish everyone would just settle down. Weight loss is personal, and if J.Hud wants to shed some pounds -– and get paid to do so -- then let her. She doesn't have to be the curvy girl poster child for life if she doesn't want to. Maybe she didn’t thrive on constantly being referred to as "thick" (as the commenter above put it) or "the big girl" (as she was when she was a contestant on American Idol); maybe she didn’t feel healthy after gaining 20 pounds, via a diet of “cakes and cookies and lots of fried foods," for her Oscar winning role as Effie in Dreamgirls. Maybe she had been emotionally eating to cope with the horrific ordeal of losing her mother and brother and wanted to ditch the reminder of an unspeakably sad time in her life. Maybe, as she says in the Weight Watchers commercial, she likes feeling "empowered" and wants “my family and my friends to learn good habits."
Not everyone can lose weight through willpower and determination alone. Many crave support and a feeling of community, and if someone finds that through Weight Watchers, great. Now, do I think a mega-celeb like her can’t afford to have gourmet, low-cal food delivered to her door and a trainer to whip her into shape? Of course not. But, as "S" posted on Shine, "Jennifer Hudson would be a moron to pass up Weight Watchers money. She gained weight during pregnancy and wanted to lose it. And because of Weight Watchers she is getting paid to do something she wanted to do anyway."
The fact is, you CAN love yourself, even if you're trying to lose weight. Wanting to drop a dress size or six doesn’t mean you’ve thrown in the body image towel, just like painting your baby girl’s room pink shouldn’t automatically revoke your Feminist card. You CAN lose weight and still love yourself; I might argue that for someone who is overweight and at risk for diabetes, a heart attack or stroke, it might mean you love yourself that much more.