The New Look of Weight Loss

January 4, 2012  |  

No more than a week after I saw Wendy Williams throw shots at Jennifer Lopez for her lack of talent and numerous endorsement deals, saying “Mariah Carey would never be caught in a Fiat,” news broke that my favorite singer of all time was the newest spokesperson for Jenny (Craig that is). My heart sunk a little because I knew the sort of gimmicky promotions that come along with the territory, and her first “Make it Happen” campaign confirmed my worst fears.

But Mimi is hardly alone in the new trend of black celebrity weight loss spokespersons. Jennifer Hudson set the stage for this, and undoubtedly crushed Weight Watchers’ competition with her catchy tunes, slim physique, and more publicity than the Southside Chicago native could’ve ever dreamed of. So what were Jenny and NutriSystem to do? Hire even bigger celebrity names like Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson to draw in the masses.

My main concern with the latest weight loss campaigns was how they would affect each divas image. While the opportunity boosted J Hud’s career to unexpectedly new heights, for Mariah and Janet, I’ve likened the endorsement deals to offers to appear on “Dancing with the Stars” or any other reality TV show. It’s a sign that they’ve lost their spark and are vying for ways to stay relevant in the media.

Fred Mwangaguhunga, editor of MediaTakeout.com, expressed similar sentiments in an interview with The Daily Beast. “I was really surprised when I saw Janet Jackson doing a weight-loss commercial, he said. “I don’t think this is something she would have done five years ago, given her personality. But times have changed and the way you have to sell yourself has changed, so you use what you have.”

More important than these star’s careers, which have had an excellent run thus far by all industry standards, is the question of what these campaigns mean for black women. Presumably, seeing three black female celebrities successfully shed pounds with these programs would serve as a role model for black women as obesity continues to stake its claim in our community. Kirstie Alley and Marie Osmond may not be relatable to us but these women should be, right? Not necessarily.

Many have criticized Jennifer Hudson as being disingenuous about the way she dropped 80 pounds, but while her story is believable to me, I can’t say the same about Janet Jackson. Janet may have struggled with her weight as a young woman first on the music scene but it’s been some time since we haven’t seen the singer without chiseled abs (sans her appearance in “Why Did I Get Married Too”).

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  • Tree

    I’m sorry but neither of these ladies mean anything to me as far as motivation. Mariah is a mother now and wears those head bands as a top. Thats up to her. I keep fit by using fresh fruits and veggies, making gourmet meals out of them. I don’t want any of that processed, chemical laden garbage. I love to show people how they can do this for themselves.

  • Tree

    I’m sorry but neither of these ladies mean anything to me as far as motivation. Mariah is a mother now and wears those head bands as a top. Thats up to her. I keep fit by using fresh fruits and veggies, making gourmet meals out of them. I don’t want any of that processed, chemical laden garbage. I love to show people how they can do this for themselves.

  • Tree

    I’m sorry but neither of these ladies mean anything to me as far as motivation. Mariah is a mother now and wears those head bands as a top. Thats up to her. I keep fit by using fresh fruits and veggies, making gourmet meals out of them. I don’t want any of that processed, chemical laden garbage. I love to show people how they can do this for themselves.

  • Janetashe68

    I Think its great that the celebrities can promote a positive add to all unhealthy people to get in shape with a product thats familiar and that actually works!!!!!& being black is even better being that alot of us are over weight it is what it is!!! Iappreciate   it as a black woman  !!! it motivates me more!!!we also at the same time need to stop analizing everything!!!!!

  • I think given the fact that obesity is linked to a myriad of health and social problems, and that many black women are overweight or obese, it is wonderful to see black women in the media becoming role models to others out there. I think most of us know that they do more than just eat pre-packaged food or count points all day long, however just the fact that they were able to accomplish their goals should be a motivating factor for many.

  • Guestlist

    Jennifer looks great, and she’s wearing the hell out of that dress. Who on earth dresses Mariah! She needs to fire her stylist because she looks very trashy in those spandex handkerchiefs she wears!

  • I am proud of MiMi for bouncing back so beautifully after two children. My heart didn’t sink at all seeing her in that commercial. I thought it was uplifting and inspirational. Struggling with my own weight, I wouldn’t mind giving hers or Janet’s endorsement a try.

  • Bianca

    I dont have an issue with seeing any of these women on weight loss commercials, i am glad if the commercials influence other black women to get up and loose weight. My concern is over exposure. I should not see your commercial 10-20 times in a 30 minute time frame while watching  a program on a single network… Its ridiculous. I  can now sing along with Jennifer because I have seen those weight watchers commercials so many times.

  • ctbabydoll

    @Reese you would be wrong Mariah’s weight has always fluctuated and she did Jenny set go so she wouldn’t end up a diabetic for the rest of her life life she was while she was pregnant with Roc and Roe among many other life threatening complications including a double hernia & toximia. besides Jennifer Hudson isn’t the first oscar nominee or winner to be a spokesperson for weight watchers Lynn Redgrave was 20 years ago after battling her weight all her life partcially due to jealousy of her older sister Vanessa who has no problem losing weight and keeping it off

    • reese

      you might be right I was unaware of any of that. 

  • Slyplace3033

    So first bw were too fat, and now they are being criticized for getting into shape?? I comment all of those women for losing weight…no matter how they did it!

  • reese

    Also who says they just used the product?  Ofcourse they worked out too!!

  • reese

    I don’t know that the other campaigns will be as successful because Mimi was skinny and just got pregnet and is now back small.  Janet weight goes up and down and we have seen her in really good shape having one of the best bodies I have ever seen.  Jennifer we seen on a regular as a big girl.