Weight Watchers, Why Do We Need You?

Posted By Rachel Teicher Brehm || 14-Apr-2016

A recent article (featured in Jezebel) brings light to a fresh and trendy shift in marketing for the long-time dieting corporation of Weight Watchers. Most of us recognize Weight Watchers as one long string of attempts to convince women that they will be happier, more successful, and well liked when they become a thinner version of themselves. For decades, they have boasted images of "before" and "after" women in a frantic attempt to lure more of us in. In the past, their branding has been consistently focused on…wait for it…weight loss. After all, their business is dieting and their ultimate goal is weight loss.

Once Oprah got involved, the tagline became something like this: "You're more than just a number on the scale, and we are going help you discover that." So noble! Her seemingly genuine endorsement of the weight loss program mystified us all. How can such an influential, successful, and powerful woman get on board with such a bewildering claim? If we are more than the number on the scale, why would we even consider trying to change this irrelevant number? With all this self-discovery and confidence-building, won't we simply learn to accept ourselves in the process and ditch our weight loss memberships?

A more recent campaign, however, seems to take things even further. Weight Watchers appears to abandon old themes of happiness being inextricably linked to weight loss and (ironically) takes on themes of the more prevalent movement of body positivity. Great! I'm all for accepting yourself as you are and finding ways to appreciate your unique beauty.

But, you guys.

This doesn't make any sense. Weight Watchers still wants us to diet, but they want to wrap their strategy up with euphemisms and mixed messages: Love yourself, but be thin.

Weight Watchers as we know it has spent decades promising us that our fat days can be over if we simply use their strategy - and we can easily be born again into thinner, happier people.

With more and more companies jumping on the body-positive bandwagon (Aerie, Dove, Mod Cloth), I guess I can't say I'm surprised that Weight Watchers has taken this leap of faith. Perhaps, somewhere along the line, there was the realization that making consumers feel bad about themselves is an incredibly unpopular way to market to women.

Their newest marketing ploy begs the question - if we love ourselves (despite our body shape or size) what the heck do we need you for? Are you saying that we should love our bodies, but then love them even more when we are thinner? If you are truly endorsing body-acceptance and empowerment, why would any of us need to buy into your weight loss program?

I feel like my thoughts are going in circles here - perhaps because a dieting campaign insinuating that you don't (but you do) need to diet is circular and confusing.

And so my question remains, Weight Watchers: why do we need you?

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