Growing up and watching the Cosby Show, I wanted to be Clair Huxtable. (I also wanted to date Theo but we can’t risk mixing things up here, so I’ll save that dream for a rainy day.) Mrs. Huxtable was polished and poised. Uber-smart and quite gorgeous. She dressed beautifully and carried a leather briefcase and knew exactly how to put Cliff and his sassy multi-colored sweaters in their proper place. She was the perfect blend of parent and friend, strong yet flirty, serious and funny, masculine and feminine.
Twenty-something years later, “Clair” is standing up as a different kind of role model: Phylicia Rashad, now 61, is following in Kirstie Alley’s and Valerie Bertinelli’s lighter footsteps and starring in the new Jenny Craig weight-loss campaign. (She actually signed on as a JC spokeswoman in December and has since lost 35 pounds.)
Rashad has said she was motivated to join after not being able to catch her breath after walking up three flights of stairs. "For me, this was not about going on a diet; this was about a change for life. The most rewarding thing about reaching my goal weight is that I feel so much lighter." This sounds quite similar to fellow Jenny spokeswoman Queen Latifah, who announced she just wanted to be a “Size Healthy.”
What’s interesting about Phylicia Rashad and her decision is that the actress, who has starred in the Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun with Sean Combs, and was named “Best TV mom” ahead of Marion Cunningham and Marge Simpson, is so indelibly tied to her Cosby character. People, myself included, think Clair and Phylicia are one and the same. And frankly, Clair Huxtable didn’t seem the type to diet. She seemed supremely confident, standing up tall, flashing a huge grin, smiling with her eyes (Tyra shoutout!). It would have seemed crazily out of place if, when sitting down to a big family meal with Cliff, Ruby, Theo, Vanessa, Denise and Olivia, she had pushed her steak aside and announced, “Just a salad for me tonight. I’m watching my figure.” It probably would have made me think I needed to watch my figure myself. After all, it’s so easy for us as viewers to subconsciously want to emulate actresses on TV.
I have no problem with Rashad shilling for Jenny Craig – though I don’t exactly believe her when she answers the question “Is there anything you miss from your old, pre-Jenny life?” with “Actually, no! There's nothing I miss. Nothing.” (Really? Not one thing? You don’t miss eating gooey brownies still warm from the oven and drizzled with caramel? Or deep dish pizza oozing with mozzarella? Those Jenny Craig bruschetta veggie chips are totally doin’ it for ya?).But if she wants to lose weight and make money while doing it, then I say, Go girl! I just think some of the old Cosby fans voicing outrage over her decision need to remember she’s not Clair. Clair would definitely eat deep dish with me. P.S. Become Clair’s Facebook friend here!