“Inside every overweight woman is the woman she knows she can become”
This is what Oprah Winfrey tells us in her new commercial for Weight Watchers. I find it enraging. It implies that every overweight woman is just waiting to become someone else because who she is now is unacceptable. Weight Watchers is a company premised on selling us the message that we are not good enough as we currently are, so I’m not sure why I found this advertisement surprising. Perhaps it is because the message was coming from the diet industry by way of Oprah. The following is a fact that I don’t usually share with people: I used to be an Oprah fan. Don’t judge me. For many years of my life, I rushed home by 4pm to sit in front of my television and watch my old friend give me advice about the benefits of journaling, how to heal my relationships, and share her favorite things with me. As a loyal viewer, I also watched alongside America as her weight fluctuated throughout the years. She would share her struggle with her audience; so many times coming on the show with an expert claiming that she had finally found the answer. In 2010, when Oprah brought intuitive eating guru Geneen Roth on her show to proclaim that she had an “ah-ha moment” and discovered a compassionate non-dieting approach to cope with her eating issues, I believed that she truly had found a way out of her conflicted relationship with food and her body. I was wrong. The path to accepting our body is often filled with peaks and valleys and most of us have had moments when we drink the diet industry kool-aid and believe that our bodies are the problem and dieting is the solution. This type of struggle is only natural. But Oprah has not only drank the kool aid; she is selling it as well. She became the kool-aid spokesperson. And I find this to be simply unconscionable.
Perhaps the Weight Watchers advertisement made me so angry because I saw in it, not just Oprah sharing the message that we are not good enough as we currently are, but because I saw in it every woman who has given up on herself. Every woman who has grappled with notions of self-acceptance but ultimately bought into the myth that thinness is the path to salvation. That our bodies are inherently flawed and we most coerce our body into submission to conform to the narrow ideals that define beauty in this day and age. That loving our body and caring for it with compassion should be passed over in favor of diet plans that erode our sense of self worth in exchange for unfulfilled promises of thinness and acceptance.
My message is this: Inside every overweight woman–inside every woman, regardless of her size– is the woman who knows how to love and care for herself right now. Inside every woman is the woman who knows that weight loss will make her thinner but not happier, healthier, or better in any way. Inside every woman is a woman who has the power to break free from the binds of dieting and accept herself right now.
What’s inside your every overweight woman? Share your message at #everyoverweightwoman and #TheAntiDietPlan