Tag Archives: Jenny Craig

Celebrity Dieting for Dollars

Lynne Murray says:

I was very upset to hear rumors at Jezebel.com that diet companies were “battling” over having Rebel Wilson as their spokesperson.”

Wilson is one of a very few smart, funny, sexy role models who seems to take no prisoners. Many of her interviews suggest that she understands and takes responsibility for her influence on women struggling with body image problems. She always seems to make the point that the “standing out in a crowd” aspect of fatness can be valuable.

A Vulture.com piece describes her attitude:

Wilson is round in a way that seems like an attribute; she has a post-fat state of mind. She does not shy away from her size—instead, she embraces the fact that she is different. That attitude makes Wilson at one with the Zeitgeist: In entertainment today, unless you aspire to be on a reality show or soap opera, different is the way to be.

“I was thinking, Why are these network shows so crap? As a creative person, it can make you insane to have 50 people in suits, who aren’t in comedy, feeling that they have a say in every aspect of the show. The people who bought it keep telling me, ‘You can’t say that. And you can’t do that.’ So one day, I sat down and wrote a Post-it and put it in my Hello Kitty notebook, which I take everywhere. Whenever I feel down, I read the Post-it and remember why I’m doing the show.”

Her Post-it is a kind of mission statement: “The bigger purpose in all of this,” Wilson wrote, “is to inspire girls who don’t think they’re socially all that—who don’t think they’re pretty and popular. To let them know they can have fun and exciting lives.”

The Misfit: Can Rebel Wilson Create the American Sitcom’s First Genuine Outcast?
By Lynn Hirschberg

The Jezebel.com piece speculated that the payday Wilson could reap for a weight loss spokesperson gig could amount to $4 million (the amount Jessica Simpson collected for her endorsement deal with Weight Watchers, dollars) “An insider claims that [Wilson] is asking for a fortune…. viewers could get a front-row seat to her slim down on her ABC series.”

Jezebel concluded by mentioning that “[Wilson] also has a history with the industry: she was the spokesperson for Jenny Craig Australia in 2012.”

I was saddened at the prospect of seeing Wilson’s attitude turned into the sort of smarmy commercials that have me diving for the remote to mute the television set when I hear the words, “Jennifer Hudson.” I just hate to see another in-your-face-fat girl turned into a notch on the diet industry’s bedpost. Someone on Facebook mentioned that an appropriate sound track the Queen song, “Another One Bites the Dust.”

Then a ray of hope dawned in the form of an Extratv.com post quoting Wilson shooting down the rumors:

Rebel assured her involvement in a weight-loss campaign is a rumor. “Nobody’s come to me directly,” adding that another program she was involved with in Australia, “Didn’t quite work out.”

When it comes to body image, Wilson explained, “I don’t really care what I look like that much, and I think women out there should just be happy with the way they look. They shouldn’t really try to conform to any kind of stereotype. Just be happy and hopefully healthy.”

In a 2012 article, an Australian newspaper, “The Daily Telegraph” described the outcome of Wilson’s Jenny Craig adventure there:

Speaking on the Kyle and Jackie O show this morning, the Bridesmaids actress said she was landing more roles in the US because of her figure.  “Because of my filming commitments in America you have to sign contracts where you can’t change your physical appearance,” she said on-air.  The Sydney-born star said she ended the agreement “like a year ago”.

Wilson’s most recent big screen outing, in a Capella comedy “Pitch Perfect”, saw her play a character called “Fat Amy”. Producers told her when she landed the part she couldn’t lose more than a few kilos before filming finished.

Rebel Wilson might be better qualified than most fat actresses to negotiate a graceful exit from diet company bondage. She has a law degree, writes much of her own comedy material and her career is on the rise. The typical weight company “ambassador” is a performer who seem to have exhausted the shock value of rising above the crowd as a talented fat phenomenon. Not getting any younger in a youth-obsessed profession and facing the reality that very few parts exist for fat actors and singers, the temptation must grow to accept a weight company spokesperson offer before the public forgets their names and even those offers dry up. The stated aim would be to reboot their careers by recreating their bodies several sizes smaller, but do they really find career opportunities not centered on their dieting activities?

The way in which weight loss companies truly use and abuse their spokespeople shows up in the Australian Jenny Craig organization’s comment on Wilson’s departure. A diplomatic statement assured the world that, “they were happy to briefly have Wilson has an ambassador” but it came coupled with a back-handed insult:   “The well-rounded comedienne ended her agreement with the weight loss giant last year before reaching her target goal, which was shedding 20kg [45 pounds].”  They just had to let us know that they defined Wilson as a dieting failure despite her acting career successes.

I value Wilson’s attitude so much, that I strongly hope she continues on the path that led her out of the dieting celebrity game and into an increasingly stronger voice for body diversity.

A Letter I Needed To Read

Lynne Murray says:

Sometimes you run across a statement that makes you take a deep breath and feel like you found something you needed to hear, even though you didn’t know you needed to hear it. That’s the way I feel about Iris Higgins’ “An Open Apology to All of My Weight Loss Clients” posted in her blog on 07/27/2013

Higgins comes from a different perspective than I do. She’s “New-Agey” enough to invite readers to call her “your fairy angel.” She now works helping clients build self-esteem and empowerment without dieting, but for 3 years she worked at Jenny Craig.

I loved my job there. I LOVED my clients. I loved making a connection and sharing my knowledge. And I learned a lot about nutrition, about dieting and weight loss and what works and what doesn’t. My job was to be a weight loss consultant, and I learned that job very well. …

[This is] a letter to each and every woman that I unknowingly wronged. My heart is beating a little bit faster as I write this, and so I know this needs to be said. The words have been playing in my head for months. Sometimes it just takes time for me to get up the courage to say the right thing.

Higgins came to realize how the program damaged her clients. Having been a part of the system she knows it from the inside and with a rare and admirable honesty she explains and takes responsibility

Dear Former Weight Loss Clients (you know who you are):

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry because I put you on a 1200 calorie diet and told you that was healthy. I’m sorry because when you were running 5x a week, I encouraged you to switch from a 1200 calorie diet to a 1500 calorie diet, instead of telling you that you should be eating a hell of a lot more than that. I’m sorry because you were breastfeeding and there’s no way eating those 1700 calories a day could have been enough for both you and your baby. I’m sorry because you were gluten intolerant and so desperate to lose weight that you didn’t put that on your intake form. But you mentioned it to me later, and I had no idea the damage you were doing to your body. I’m sorry because I think I should have known. I think I should have been educated better before I began to tell all of you what was right or wrong for your body.

I’m sorry because I made you feel like a failure and so you deliberately left a message after the center had closed, telling me you were quitting. I thought you were awesome and gorgeous, and I’m sorry because I never told you that. I’m sorry because you came in telling me you liked to eat organic and weren’t sure about all the chemicals in the food, and I made up some BS about how it was a “stepping stone.” I’m sorry because many of you had thyroid issues and the LAST thing you should have been doing was eating a gluten-filled, chemically-laden starvation diet. I’m sorry because by the time I stopped working there, I wouldn’t touch that food, yet I still sold it to you.

… I am sorry because many of you walked in healthy and walked out with disordered eating, disordered body image, and the feeling that you were a “failure.” None of you ever failed. Ever. I failed you. The weight loss company failed you. Our society is failing you.

Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It’s really just that. Nonsense.

And I can’t stop it. But I can stop my part in it. I won’t play the weight loss game anymore. I won’t do it to my body, and I won’t help you do it to yours.

Seeing Higgins working to undo the knots twisted in people’s heads and hearts inspires me tremendously as a demonstration of the power of honesty and goodwill.