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Jenny Says —

December 5, 2011

Hey all, I’ve got some fan-fucking-tastic news. Jenny Craig is dead!

Yes, the Queen of Celebrity Weight Loss Endorsements performed a radical act of self-immolation, tossing it’s entourage of semi-celebrities onto the pyre, including Carrie Fisher, Valerie Bertinelli, Sara Rue, Nicole Sullivan, Ross Matthews, Jason Alexander, and Phylicia Rashad.

If you check out Jenny’s customer forum, you’ll find that they still have a board for Carrie’s Crowd, Val’s Pals and The Rue Crew, but noticeably absent are the pages dedicated specifically to Carrie, Val, and Sara, all of which redirect to the general customer testimonials.

What could have driven them to such drastic measures as abandoning the good will these personable celebs had with their fans, let alone the weight loss success they have sustained?

They found someone better.

Like a phoenix from the ashes, Jenny Craig used Mariah Carey, their biggest celebrity endorsement to date, to relaunch the company as simply Jenny. On November 9, they launched the new ad featuring Carey breaking free of some sort of gauzy entrapment to reveal her newly slimmed and toned body piece by piece.

Of course, this is all about your health:

As an artist, I use my voice to entertain. But, today I want to use my voice to draw attention to a serious matter. Two-thirds of the country is placing themselves at risk for heart disease and diabetes. Largely, that is due to unhealthy eating patterns and lack of physical activity…  That’s why I feel so strongly about working with Jenny and the American Heart Association to help Americans get serious about their health as it pertains to these issues which are so important.

Aw, gee, Mariah, we didn’t know you cared so much.

In this same interview, Mariah, who lost 30 pounds with Jenny, invoked the recent death of Heavy D as part of her rationalization for joining Jenny. Of course, she doesn’t mention that when he died Heavy D was in the midst of yet another weight loss attempt, after a lifetime of  losing and regaining hundreds of pounds, if not over a thousand, and that weight cycling has a well-documented correlation with death from cardiovascular disease.

With the AHA on board, Mariah can tout the health benefits of Jenny’s program as the “so important” reasons she joined Jenny’s team, but Carey’s endorsement serves one purpose, as outlined in the press area of Jenny’s website:

“A hipper, sexier Jenny,” the overview explains. ” That’s big news that’ll give them something to talk about.”

Getting people to talk up their brand is essentially the bread and butter of Jenny. It isn’t about the program itself or the health benefits of the Jenny approach, it is simply about keeping Jenny on the lips of every potential dieter out there.

But before you jump to conclusions and assume that Carey was simply in it for the money, you need to know that she thoroughly researched her options before cashing the check endorsing the best weight loss company.

[Carey] told [Gayle] King she was approached by three different weight loss companies while pregnant but picked Jenny because she clicked with the people and liked their partnership with the American Heart Association.

“Some other suitors have great money, have great whatever it is that their concepts are, (but) I didn’t really connect with the people, and this was only over the phone at first. The first time I spoke with the executors at Jenny it was like we really clicked in terms of the fact that they had a vision beyond weight loss.”

So, Carey agreed to endorse Jenny Craig before she had even tried the product based solely on Jenny’s “executors” (I thought they were called counselors, but apparently the new Jenny has them wearing black hoods and wielding axes to ensure customer success). That’s troubling in its own right, but the inclusion of the AHA seems to have also played a role.

I find the AHA’s endorsement interesting because in their “Guidelines for Weight Management Programs for Healthy Adults,” the AHA describes their “Summary of Essential Components” in detail. Among the multiple essential components is this one:

Evaluation of the long-term effectiveness and safety of the program by review of weight loss and health status of all participants after completion of the program and at 1, 2, and 5 years after program completion

Although Jenny Craig does have one- and two-year studies available, the results are pathetic, to say the least. And there are zero five-year studies of the Jenny Craig program. Meanwhile, Jenny’s two-year randomized, controlled study provided 442 overweight and obese participants the food and counseling services for free, did not blind counselors to the identity of study participants (leaving them open to bias in treatment), and paid participants $25 to show up for the check-in dates, which counted toward the retention rate.

The results were directly responsible for Jenny earning Consumer Reports’ Top Diet prize for maintaining a 92% retention rate after two years (gee, how’d they do it?), something competitors and critics immediately picked up on.

But in terms of actual weight loss, the results are less than impressive: at one year, the average weight loss was 10.9% of starting weight, or 22 pounds, while after two years, the losses dwindled to 7.9% or 16 pounds, plus or minus 3 pounds.

Compare that to Jenny’s more realistic one-year study that followed 81,500 customers who joined Jenny Craig in 2005, and you’ll get a more accurate assessment of the program’s efficacy. At one year, they had a retention rate of approximately 12%. They don’t give the exact number in the report anywhere, just the following chart comparing the 2001 Platinum program with the 2005 Rewards program, which is Platinum plus financial incentives.

In that study, approximately 12% remained after one year and had lost an average of 13% of their starting weight, or 26 pounds.

After the AHA lays out their Essential Components, they share this gem:

If there are no data to demonstrate that program participants maintain their weight losses for 5 years or more, there is no scientific evidence of long-term results of the program. Case histories of program successes are not sufficient and should not be presented as descriptive of the program’s overall success rate.

How exactly does Jenny’s existing research square with the AHA’s Guidelines for Weight Management Programs? Answer: It doesn’t and it can’t.

And while Mariah Carey may tout the AHA’s endorsement as the reason for choosing Jenny, it seems a stretch that Carey’s health was the mitigating factor in her weight loss.

Carey says that she was so embarrassed by her pregnant body that she never went naked.


“I was never nude. I had a towel on in the tub, I had clothing on in the tub,” she told King. “I’m not lying, I promise you. You think I would let Nick see me looking rancid like that?”

When you really break it down, Mariah’s plea for, and Jenny’s commitment to, the health of fat people begins to seem like nothing more than lip service. Health becomes the superficial justification for launching a viral campaign that features pop sensation Mariah Carey ripping through sheets of fabric to expose her sexy body.

The health rationalizations for Jenny’s program are a mile wide and an inch deep. Spend some time exploring Jenny’s FAQ and you’ll see what I mean.

Under “How Jenny Works, ” I found the following brilliant explanation. Pay close attention and see if you notice something strange about these three answers:

Catch it? If not, don’t feel bad. Jenny spin-meisters have spent countless hours perfecting the meaningless pablum they spoon-feed potential clients.

This time, I’ll diagram the answers to draw more attention to the problem.

How do I know Jenny Craig really works? Because we repeat our answers until you submit to the fact that it works, dammit!

In the end, all Jenny Craig has done with their brand overhaul is to put lipstick on a pig. Not a single substantive change has taken place at Jenny Craig. The lauded change comes from a single celebrity endorsement by a woman whose sole contribution to the franchise is a popular name and a “sexy” body.

As a result, Jenny can rake in a temporary bump in market share for doing, essentially, nothing.

Only in America.

32 Comments leave one →
  1. Fab@54 permalink
    December 5, 2011 12:55 pm

    Fuck Jenny. That’s all.

    • December 5, 2011 2:01 pm

      Fuck her in her lying little head.


  2. DeAun permalink
    December 5, 2011 1:19 pm

    Wow, I feel for Mariah actually. Feeling that she looked so bad pregnant that she not only couldn’t be nude in front of her husband, but not even in the tub?? How sad that both of them couldn’t fully enjoy the beauty of her pregnancy, because I do not doubt that her feelings about her body affected their experience of the pregnancy. 😦

    • December 5, 2011 2:02 pm

      It is sad that her body image problems are so deeply ingrained that the beauty of her pregnant body was overshadowed by the “imperfection” she perceived. How utterly trapped a person must feel that they cannot even be naked in the tub. But for her to then turn and project that self-loathing onto the other women through Jenny Craig… that’s just cold.


  3. Mulberry permalink
    December 5, 2011 1:36 pm

    “I was never nude. I had a towel on in the tub, I had clothing on in the tub,” she told King. “I’m not lying, I promise you. You think I would let Nick see me looking rancid like that?”

    This whole comment disgusts me. She’s carrying a man’s baby, and she doesn’t want the father-to-be to see her doing so naked. Preganant women look rancid?? Why doesn’t Million Moms or somebody get majorly pissed off at this? And if Nick agreed with this, then there are more problems here than a temporary weight gain.

    Ah well, maybe I’m just being a bit naive here. But it’s a pity that even when a woman can make a nice living for herself, she still feels this way.

    • December 5, 2011 2:04 pm

      That is an extreme comment, and one that went completely under-reported in the whole Jenny rebranding circus. Maybe we need to bring it to their attention, as this comment was part and parcel of her endorsement of Jenny.

      If Mariah Carey feels this way about her body, then the average woman doesn’t stand a chance.


    • Alice permalink
      December 6, 2011 8:50 pm

      “She’s carrying a man’s baby, and she doesn’t want the father-to-be to see her doing so naked. Preganant women look rancid?? Why doesn’t Million Moms or somebody get majorly pissed off at this? And if Nick agreed with this, then there are more problems here than a temporary weight gain.

      Ah well, maybe I’m just being a bit naive here. But it’s a pity that even when a woman can make a nice living for herself, she still feels this way.”

      I completely agree with this. This indicates the cause of part of Mariah Carey’s body image problems: his attitude and beliefs about pregnancy and a woman’s body/size. At best, it is capitulating or catering to, masking, and enabling a psychologically abusive relationship and misogyny.

      Which is something neither Jenny nor any other weight loss program can fix.

  4. Kala permalink
    December 5, 2011 1:49 pm

    To have someone as purportedly shallow and diva-like as Mariah Carey, fake concern about anything, is pretty repugnant.


    • December 5, 2011 2:05 pm

      Repugnant, yes, but she aligns perfectly with their business model. 🙂


  5. dufmanno permalink
    December 5, 2011 1:49 pm

    Dude, you know about Jenny and I

    Still, that said I’d love the opportunity to bust out of a grey gauzy tarp on television. Let’s plan that.

    • December 5, 2011 2:06 pm

      Oh the commercial is ripe for parody. Personally, I think they got the idea from this:


  6. vesta44 permalink
    December 5, 2011 2:53 pm

    With all of these commercial DIEt plans, it’s never about health, no matter what they say. It’s all about making women hate their bodies so they’ll keep coming back to the plan, no matter how many times it fails them, because anything is better than being fat. With people like Carrie Fisher, Valerie Bertinelli, Sara Rue, Nicole Sullivan, Ross Matthews, Jason Alexander, Phylicia Rashad, and now, Pariah Scarey telling us they were worthless until they used Jenny to get thin and beautiful and healthy, what chance does the average person have, let alone a fat person, to resist the siren song of The Fantasy Of Being Thin?
    I used to like all of those stars, until they sold out and caved into the pressure to become something they’re not naturally – thin. If they can’t accept themselves the way they are, with all their wealth and fame, then I pity them, but I still have no use for them. I’m not rich and famous, and I figured out how to tell society to kiss my fat ass and bring its lunch because it’s an all-day job – I’m going to live my life with the body I have and if society doesn’t like it, suck it! If people who have the kind of influence that they have would do that more often, maybe it would be easier to change society’s view of fat people.
    But when people like Pariah Scarey say that being pregnant makes her rancid, and no one should see her naked, not even the man who got her that way, well, she’s one sick woman and needs more help than several therapists could give her in a lifetime of therapy. And for Jenny Craig to take advantage of that makes them opportunists and greedy bastards of the worst kind.

    • December 6, 2011 12:34 pm

      Pariah Scary…
      hee hee!
      She was rancid before she was pregnant. I’ve always found her obnoxious. Not that I follow her Twitter account but I heard plenty about her constant tweeting about her pregnancy from other sources.
      Can we say “attention whore?”

    • Alice permalink
      December 6, 2011 9:18 pm

      “It’s all about making women hate their bodies so they’ll keep coming back to the plan, no matter how many times it fails them, because anything is better than being fat. With people like Carrie Fisher, Valerie Bertinelli, Sara Rue, Nicole Sullivan, Ross Matthews, Jason Alexander, Phylicia Rashad, and now, Pariah Scarey telling us they were worthless until they used Jenny to get thin and beautiful and healthy, what chance does the average person have, let alone a fat person, to resist the siren song of The Fantasy Of Being Thin?”

      Beautifully put, Vesta. Thank you.

      You nailed what it’s all about.


      • Alice permalink
        December 6, 2011 9:19 pm

        Or more specifically:

        Body hatred => sales.

  7. December 5, 2011 3:00 pm

    I used to love Sara Rue, and then she started shilling for these fucking people. It really just makes me upset. People get mad at me when I won’t do things like eat at Chik-fil-a (when they give a crapton of money to anti-gay hate groups), watch The Biggest Loser (because, y’know, I don’t like watching other people’s suffering) or support any company which donates to Autism Speaks (because I refuse to support people who think my disorder makes me mentally damaged). What principles have I if I don’t do that? Fuck every one of the people who shill for this company.

    • December 6, 2011 12:32 pm

      People are surprised when I, a person with a mood disorder, don’t support NAMI. This is because they are shills for Big Pharma. People don’t consider the side effects that many meds can have–some of which can be life threatening. It is not that I’m saying that meds aren’t necessary and even life saving in some cases, but to not acknowledge the true nature of these medications is irresponsible to say the least.

      • Alice permalink
        December 6, 2011 8:59 pm

        I appreciate reading that about NAMI. I have always been wary of them because the call psychological problems “mental illness”: a medical focus, rather than a psychological/emotional one. I suspect a lot of people who really could use psychological or emotional support are being handed pills instead, or gratuitously in addition to that support. It keeps those doctors, psychiatrists, and as you say, Big Pharma, paid very well.

        • December 7, 2011 12:47 am

          Absolutely! Also, I was handed the wrong diagnosis for years because I have type II bipolar disorder, which does not present with full on mania. The only time I have had full mania was when it was caused by a medication. Once I was properly diagnosed I started taking Lithium and for the first time since childhood I knew what being level felt like. I was 38 years old at the time. Lithium is the only medication I take other than a low dose of amlodipine besylate for hypertension. Everything else is a natural supplement.
          So many of my fellow travelers with psychiatric issues are being prescribed multiple medications and in some cases I think the medications, or combinations thereof, may be causing them further problems. Polypharmacy is always suspect. It is often a way of putting a band-aid on a symptom rather than addressing the underlying issues.

  8. December 5, 2011 5:05 pm

    O yeah. Because a woman’s pregnant body is rancid. Yeah. Because women should be embarrassed to show their partners the body carrying their child. OF COURSE!

    My mind is so blown right now, I think blood is running from my ears.

    • Kala permalink
      December 5, 2011 6:04 pm

      When I hear the word rancid, I think of like, necrotic tissue, as if someone got something like a brown recluse spider bite. What a horrible word to attribute to a pregnant woman, even if the person saying it highly disliked the way she looked while pregnant.

      • December 6, 2011 10:41 am

        Just wait until she starts seeing those adorable healthy rolls of fat on her baby’s growing body … time to put the infant on a diet! Is there a Jenny program for infants yet? I wouldn’t be surprised.

        • Alice permalink
          December 6, 2011 9:06 pm

          Wow, so true! I bet that kid will be underfed from day 1.

          As much as people are trouncing on Mariah here, I think this is a product of a) her misogynist boyfriend and b) the thinness pressures on celebrity women. She goes into the music business, is under extreme physical scrutiny to be accepted into the business and get the contracts, is “found” by her first husband who makes her a big name, and is under ever-increasing scrutiny. No wonder someone ends up shallow and hating her body. Women really have a choice of not being celebrities and letting men be the only big recording artists (which I hate), or being like this. I really blame the celebrity TV shows and magazines, (gay) male fashion designers, and critics like Mr. Blackwell and Cojo. Men should stick to designing for and criticizing other men.

          • December 7, 2011 12:49 am

            Thankfully we do have Adele and Beth Ditto. But unconventionally beautiful, gutsy, strong women like them are unfortunately in the minority in the music industry and in the entertainment industry as a whole.

  9. Bree permalink
    December 5, 2011 6:02 pm

    While Mariah Carey’s comments about her pregnant body being rancid are extremely offensive, she’s coming from two areas. One, where famous women are supposed to immediately get back to their pre-baby weight after they give birth. The second area is Mariah being used to wearing very form-fitting outfits that look three sizes too small almost her entire career. She’s used to showing off her body and being proud. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your figure. But I can see her being horrified at not being able to fit into those clothes anymore, so hence the dieting. If only she could celebrate the changes her body made due to being pregnant with those cute twins, instead of trying so hard to maintain an image she really doesn’t have to maintain.

    • Mulberry permalink
      December 6, 2011 2:07 am

      Bree, your comments got me considering, mainly because I don’t follow the lives of celebrities. No matter what kind of female celebrity you are, looks always figure in the equation of public acceptance. A woman could be a very fine singer, but if she’s not thin, she won’t get the major promotional push (except maybe Susan Boyle). We get angry at celebs, but they’re not typically the ones with major power, and the ones that do have clout get it at least partially by following the party line. Would Oprah Winfrey have as many followers if she told women they were okay at their current weight?
      Vesta, you and I (and many others here) may have a slight advantage in that our income, modest as it might be, does not depend so crucially on our weight. We can tell society to fuck off without it making so much difference in social status as it would make for a celebrity. The Yawning Chasm of Oblivion opens ever wider for the aging female celebrity. She tries to conform for a few more years, hoping to stave off the all-but-inevitable.

  10. December 5, 2011 7:01 pm

    I never liked Mariah Carey or her music, and now I really, really hate her. Reading those comments she made about her pregnant body made me sick. I have seen that repugnant Jenny commercial a few times now and it is really quite bizarre. The first time I saw it, I was like, huh? What the fuck is that? It looked like Jason Voorhees hacking his way out of a hockey net. Then I realized it was yet another celebrity shilling a diet program and of course the name Jenny gave it away. What’s really repugnant is the fact that the half naked stiletto-wearing Whore of Babylon wanna-be who finally emerges from this bizarre dark net is being touted as someone women are supposed to emulate. Why doesnt Mariah Carey just do porn with her new body? She’d probably make just as much money. Well, maybe not as much, sorry.

    • December 6, 2011 12:27 pm

      Jason Voorhees hacking his way out of a hockey net would be sexay by compare to having Mariah Carey emerge. I find her incredibly annoying.

      • Alice permalink
        December 7, 2011 5:51 am

        Thank you for turning me on to Beth Ditto. I’d never heard her before, and just checked her out on YouTube. Wow! She’s awesome! Thanks!

        • December 7, 2011 10:38 am

          She is truly amazing! I wish there had been a Beth Ditto when I was growing up. She is such a powerful role model, especially for girls who do not fit the “conventional” type of beauty.

  11. December 5, 2011 8:09 pm

    What an amazing post…and once again I find myself enraged at yet another ugly example of the confluence of the media, diet industry and celebrities who feel that their talent alone isn’t enough to keep them in the spotlight. Kim Brittingham’s book, Read my Hips has a wonderful description of her involvement as a “counselor” at a Jenny type organization and it is worth the read.

    To hate your pregnant body is so sad for the kid and for the mom. So sad. Sounds to me that Mariah was so disgusted with her body that she was already in the self starvation mode and any program she signed up with would have been temporarily successful. Jenny will get the “credit” for Mariah starving herself and then when she gains the weight back, it will all be Mariah’s fault for not being able to keep starving herself.
    SHEESH!!!!!! “There oughta be a law!”

  12. December 6, 2011 12:25 pm

    I’m glad to know that Mariah Carey thinks that pregnant women look “rancid.” I’d like to say that she should never breed, but it isn’t her children’s fault that she’s a twit. I thought she was a twit prior to saying this anyway.
    I do not have any pictures of myself when I was pregnant. I was 24 years old and thought that I was “fat” when I weighed a little over 130 pounds. This was back in 1989. The brainwashing has been around for a long time. I never thought that OTHER pregnant women looked bad, mind–just me.
    I also had toxemia and ended up weighing over 200 pounds when my son was born. Why is this weight gain a concern? Not because I was so “fat” but because in a pregnant woman, such a weight gain indicates a serious health problem–toxemia. I still have stretch marks on my calves because my legs were so swollen with fluid.
    Heavy D was a sweet man. I’m sorry that he’s gone. It’s too bad that he fell into the die-t trap. That may have had more to do with his health issues than being heavy ever did.
    Echoing what others said, fuck Jenny.

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