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Jennifer Hudson: Can it get much sadder than this?

January 23, 2012

I hardly need to introduce Jennifer Hudson, nor do I need to remind you of her recent decision to shill for Weight Watchers. Yesterday, however, I saw this on TV:

See, I had never heard of Jennifer Hudson before I saw her Weight Watchers commercials. I didn’t know what she looked like before WW. If I had recognized her, I would have known what to expect, but I didn’t.Anyway, at first glance, it looks like a public service announcement for eating disorders or body image advocacy. It could also have been a plea from some performing arts organization. Maybe they want us to give the gift of music to underprivileged teens. Either way, Jennifer Hudson was attractive and talented in this commercial. Then the new, improved, thinner JH appears and I roll my eyes.

Isn’t it just sad that someone with so many achievements as a performer is more proud of her weight loss than anything else? Isn’t it sad that, in spite of her achievements as a plus-sized woman, she didn’t believe in herself until now? Shouldn’t she be singing this in praise of her fat self for overcoming the prejudices of others?

But this has been said before.

What bothers me more is the way they bring you in. Most people (except for hard-core fat haters) would be encouraged by seeing a fat woman having a good time, being the center of attention, and succeeding in life. They use an image of a well-dressed fat woman singing specifically about believing in oneself. Then the scene changes into one that focuses on thin privilege. By the time you realize what is going on, you see the advert.

The message is clear: even if you succeed as a fat woman, the way to keep going is to stay thin. After all, you are obviously worth it. Why wouldn’t you give yourself the best treatment possible? A hot bod and an “easy, delicious” diet plan?

I guess they realized that the “before” and “after” photos weren’t cutting it?

Whatever.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23, 2012 11:14 am

    This commercial saddens me every time that I see it. She is such a talented woman. I absolutely ADORED her in Dreamgirls. And I’m happy that she has found a way to be happy with herself. That was the path she chose to follow, and she did so. Very cool. But I’m sad that, as you say, she is giving the message that Talent is worth less if you are Fat.

  2. January 23, 2012 11:21 am

    The difference- to me- isn’t even that noticeable. For all the hard work and effort she puts in shoving her lifestyle changes down our throats, the results are less than stellar. Seems to me her natural body is larger and she hasn’t come to terms with that. That is the saddest part.

  3. vesta44 permalink
    January 23, 2012 12:45 pm

    It’s really sad that no matter how much a person accomplishes, none of it matters if zie isn’t thin, none of it counts as worthwhile if it wasn’t accomplished while thin. I’m sorry, but if you wait until you’re thin to live your life, to enjoy your life, to have fun in your life, you may be waiting forever to have a life. That’s not the kind of world in which I want to live. I want to live in a world where everyone is valued for their contributions and their contributions matter, no matter what size their body happens to be. And Jennifer Hudson needs to wake up and realize that being thinner didn’t get her where she is today – it was her talent and her talent had nothing to do with the size of her body, her talent was there all along, people saw it, valued her for it, awarded her for it and the size of her body didn’t detract from her talent at all. But these ads of hers certainly make one wonder about her confidence in her talent – does she think she has to have a hot body in order to get people to notice her talent now? Funny thing is, since she’s lost weight and done these commercials, what movies has she made? How popular are her records? Has she come out with any new music? No? I wonder why……………………

    • Rubyfruit permalink
      January 25, 2012 6:13 pm

      This

      if you wait until you’re thin to live your life, to enjoy your life, to have fun in your life, you may be waiting forever to have a life.

      This said something to me.

  4. January 23, 2012 12:46 pm

    I felt the same way about how this commercial hooked me before I realized what they were selling….. The first time I saw it was during a singing competition show and I thought it was an advert for some new music she was doing. It seems so deceptive and your post hits the nail right on the head about the contradiction in the message of the song and all the unhealthy messages that this commercial puts out.

  5. January 23, 2012 2:18 pm

    I can’t stand her or any of the other pathetic people who shill for weight loss companies. If you can’t be comfortable in your own skin, I want nothing to do with you.

  6. January 23, 2012 4:39 pm

    I understand many of you don’t agree with weight loss companies and you have a right to do that. It’s great that you can be comfortable at your size but Jennifer deserves the right to chose weight loss for herself and she doesn’t deserve hate for that. She doesn’t deserve anyone’s pity either. No one knows what is best for her besides her. I’m disappointed with a couple things said in this post by a couple of you.

    • January 24, 2012 9:18 am

      Ashley,
      I understand where you are coming from, but nobody is criticizing Jennifer for choosing to lose weight because there is too much standing between that basic decision that any person is free to make about their bodies and the situation that Jennifer Hudson is in, which takes that personal decision and promotes the value of that decision to other people who look up to and admire her in exchange for a big, fat check.

      Once you accept compensation to use your celebrity voice to promote a product that, as kprofou said, does not work (and for as much research as WW has, it all indicates that it does not work for the vast majority, and for those who do achieve some success, it isn’t nearly the “1 to 2 pounds per week” they are told to expect), then you are something entirely different than a private citizen making a private choice about your body.

      As far as your question about people being free to criticize fat bodies, we’re already there. Only in the past decade has Fat Acceptance really risen to power enough to say, “That’s bullshit.” But as far as I know, there aren’t any fat people who are using their personal choice to be fat in order to endorse specific products. When you endorse a product, as Hudson has, you become the public face of that product, and therefore open yourself up to the same criticism as the company itself would face. Were Hudson a private citizen making a private choice, none of us would give a shit, but it is the fact that she has sold her personal decision to WW and is willing to read scripts that reinforce the belief that fat bodies are terrible, that makes people mad at her.

      Peace,
      Shannon

    • BBDee permalink
      January 26, 2015 9:27 pm

      I don’t have a problem with her losing weight. If that’s important to her and she succeeds, more power to her! What I do have a problem with is her prostituting herself to sell a dubious product. I consider her, Valerie Bertinelli, Marie Osmond, Dan Marino, etc. to be “diet WHORES.”

  7. Mulberry permalink
    January 23, 2012 10:04 pm

    Yes, I think it can get much sadder.
    I am sad for children whose bullying is tacitly encouraged by some CHOA ads in Georgia.
    I am sad for people who are bullied into losing weight and pushed into dangerous methods of doing so, resulting in great loss of money.
    I feel sad for Jennifer Hudson in that she lost several close family members in a short space of time. Sad that she shills for Weight Watchers? Not really. The celebrity world is cutthroat and people do what they can to stay in the notoriously fickle public eye.

    CC said, ” If you can’t be comfortable in your own skin, I want nothing to do with you.”
    Can a celebrity really be comfortable in her own skin these days? There is always someone younger and perhaps just as talented coming up right behind you. Celebrity eats people alive. Celebrity is as much about image as talent.

    Others here have noted that “Talent is worth less if you are Fat”
    VERY TRUE, especially for women. We have all noticed this in our lives, and it is triply true for celebrities. You can be gifted as all hell, but people won’t open the gift unless they like the gift wrap.

    I’m not condoning this, folks. I’m not saying there aren’t a handful of people here and there who’ve managed to bend the rules a bit. But it’s a long shot and not everyone wants to bet on one.

  8. January 23, 2012 10:39 pm

    “Yes, I think it can get much sadder.
    I am sad for children whose bullying is tacitly encouraged by some CHOA ads in Georgia.
    I am sad for people who are bullied into losing weight and pushed into dangerous methods of doing so, resulting in great loss of money.
    I feel sad for Jennifer Hudson in that she lost several close family members in a short space of time. Sad that she shills for Weight Watchers? Not really.”

    You are talking about sad in the tragic sense. I was talking more about sad in the purely pathetic sense. Yes, I think shilling for a weight loss company, or any company, is sad in the pathetic sense. It may be commonplace, but that does not mean it should not be commented on.

    By the way, in the future, I would like all people to NOT talk about the Strong4Life campaign in this post. That’s not what this post is about. Thank you.

  9. January 23, 2012 10:44 pm

    Mulberry, you make a good point. Jennifer is a celebrity. Being an actress and singer while fat, sadly, will only take one so far in their career. This is an industry where being fat limits your job offers. And being treated as a fat celebrity is much different than being a fat real estate agent or any other profession where image doesn’t matter much. The pressure is full force. Even if Jennifer did lose the weight as a result of pressures of the industry (which we don’t even know that for sure), she obviously loves singing and acting so much that she is willing to sacrifice a few pounds to accomplish her goals. It’s just like the people who get plastic surgery. I used to judge women who got breast implants pretty harshly because I am a small busted woman and I love my small boobs and for a period of time, I felt like because I was able to learn to love my small boobs then all women should be able to, but I was wrong. I still don’t agree with it but if they are happy with the result and happy in their life, who am I to judge, shame, or pity her? If Jennifer is happy with her life after shedding a few pounds, who cares and why?

    • January 23, 2012 11:14 pm

      Well, I just spent about 30 minutes writing a long, well researched response, but my problem isn’t with Jennifer Hudson doing whatever she wants with her body, and I won’t say whether she looked better before weight loss or after, because I don’t get to vote. My problem is with her taking money to hock a diet system that doesn’t work for most people.

      The the WW site, they show a study that demonstrates that WW is a superior weight loss system because after a two year period people lost 6 and 10 lbs. That’s after a monthy subscription fee of just over $42. That works out to well over a $100 spent for every pound lost.

  10. January 23, 2012 10:54 pm

    With all due respect, I am really tired of hearing “STOP JUDGING!” or “IT’S HER CHOICE!” whenever someone criticizes attitudes and behaviors that reinforce fat stigmatization. I have never said that JH was a bad person or told her she didn’t have a right to lose weight. However, I am (correctly) pointing out the fact that, regardless of her motivation, she feeds into a culture that stigmatizes fat people. And I absolutely have the right to criticize it.

    If she really wanted to lose weight for any reason, she could have kept it a private affair. People would have noticed it without her making a spectacle of herself. Instead, she made a spectacle of her weight loss. It’s not like she was spotted at a WW meeting during the course of her private life. She advertised it, and with the obvious expectation that she would be celebrated for it. If you choose to be a celebrity and make a show out of [insert escapade here] you really can’t complain about people having a reaction to it.

    Freedom of choice/speech/whatever does not mean freedom from criticism.

    • January 23, 2012 11:26 pm

      I don’t entirely disagree with you there, but then wouldn’t people be just a free to criticize fat people?

  11. January 23, 2012 11:36 pm

    I don’t know. You say the problem is more with WW, but certain things said here point more towards a personal attack against the person.

    “Isn’t it just sad that someone with so many achievements as a performer is more proud of her weight loss than anything else? Isn’t it sad that, in spite of her achievements as a plus-sized woman, she didn’t believe in herself until now? Shouldn’t she be singing this in praise of her fat self for overcoming the prejudices of others?”

    That wasn’t a statement about WW. That was purely a statement against Jennifer.

  12. January 26, 2012 4:13 pm

    As others have pointed out, the problem is not that Jennifer chose to lose weight, the problem is that she chose to shill for Weight Watchers, which is part of the multi-billion dollar diet industry. This is an industry that uses misinformation and attacks people who are larger than a certain size–generally, a rather ridiculously unattainable size.
    I do think it’s sad that Jennifer seems to have been unable to see her true worth without weight loss, at least that’s the way it comes across in the commercials. Woman, you survived the horrific loss of several members of your family–that, even above the wonderful things you achieved with your talent is the most amazing thing you have ever done. And it is sad that she appears to see weight loss as her greatest achievement, not the other things she has done. This doesn’t mean I hate her, it just means that I think this attitude–in anybody–is tragic.
    In the current Hollywood mindset, there are many things that will stop people from getting parts. Being heavy (including average size) being over a certain age (which leads to the horrors of plastic surgery that makes people not even look human any more after a certain point) being too dark skinned, looking “too Asian” (one could ask Bruce Lee about that one!) being too short, and many other factors that should not be an issue but people will hate themselves for and try to change. It is this mindset that we should rebel against.
    I don’t hate Jennifer Hudson, but I always think it’s sad when another person who was fine the way they are falls for The Mindset. I also think it’s sad that a beautiful woman like Barbara Eden got so much plastic surgery that she no longer looks human rather than allowing herself to age naturally. I don’t hate her either but I am saddened that she made this choice.
    Jennifer Hudson’s weight loss is her own business, but when she decided to shill for Weight Watchers she chose to make herself part of the system that pushes the diatribe against bodies larger than a certain arbitrary size. That is the problem.

  13. lifeonfats permalink
    January 27, 2012 10:56 pm

    In another WW commercial, she says that she was strong before she joined WW. I wonder if that is a response to the criticism she’s gotten from those of us in the Fatosphere and out of it regarding her comments that all of her achievements pre weight-loss didn’t mean anything. I think that right there is what a lot of us were upset about it. Not the weight loss, but the idea that if you’re fat, what you’ve accomplished is nothing compared to getting thin. I think we have every right to be hurt when she said that—because not only was she discounting herself, she was discounting every other fat person out there.

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