Unfortunately this week I had the misfortune of seeing an ad for Weight Watchers. Now, I understand that they are in trouble financially and so all I can hope is that the expense of these ad campaigns drive them to bankruptcy.
We know that, based on their own numbers, Weight Watchers does a horrible job of helping people lose weight long term – with participants maintaining only a 5 pound loss after 2 years (and paying about $254 per pound in meeting fees alone for the privilege – not counting WW branded food, cookbooks, diet scales etc.). We also know that they have to disclaim their products’ success every time that they claim it works because they’ve lost deceptive trade practice lawsuits brought against them by the Federal Trade Commission.
The thing that they seem to have going for them is an uncanny ability to convince their clients to credit WW with short term weight loss and blame themselves for the weight regain that almost everyone experiences, and convincing people to keep coming back for multiple rounds of the same (me included – I’m a 6 time WW veteran.) When I speak out about Weight Watchers I always get fat people who say “You shouldn’t say it doesn’t work, their program worked for me six times!” These people have a different definition of “worked” than I do.
The truth is that almost everyone can lose weight short term on almost any program, and almost everyone gains their weight back long-term even if they are able to maintain their diet behaviors, with many people gaining back more than they lost. What WW has managed to do is take credit for the first half of a natural biological response, and convince their clients to blame themselves for the second half of that response. Sure it’s disingenuous, but at least it’s highly profitable!
This new ad has actress Ana Gasteyer singing about how she can finally go sleeveless. So they’ve doubled down on the body shame by getting specific – not only is my fat body generally something I should hate, but I better check out my arms – if they jiggle when I clap then I need to keep them covered – for everyone’s sake.
Screw you Weight Watchers, with your marketing that’s designed to (as CJ Legare says) steal my self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to me at a profit , and your commercials that try to convince me that instead of appreciating my amazing body and everything it does I should hate it for not meeting some arbitrary standard of beauty. All so you can sell me a product that you know good and well doesn’t work. So the plan is that I pay you a ton of money to be left the same size as when I started and hating my body more than ever. Seriously, I can’t say this enough – screw you. I hope I get to watch you go bankrupt and out of business. And when that day comes I will dance while my fat arms jiggle in a sleeveless shirt in your honor.
If you’re feeling a little activist today, why not post a picture of you wearing something sleeveless – to the comments below, your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Or on WW’s Facebook page. Tell WW that we will not give up the right to bare arms!
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