jennifer hanigan

a pinch of this and a dollop of that

Dear Oprah, You Need New Glasses

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Oprah’s new Weight Watchers commercials are nearly unavoidable.  Even without traditional television, I’ve been subjected to several just today, and I find them both offensive and ridiculous.  But mostly, I find them sad.

Oprah, you say that “inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be.”  Now, you’re quite a wealthy lady, but if your eye doctor said your new glasses had x-ray vision, I think you overpaid.  You can’t see inside every fat woman (overweight is a stupid word–over what weight?) and you damn well can’t speak for this one.  I realized long ago that it wasn’t fat that kept me from the life I wanted, it was waiting for thinness.  I’m not sure how you haven’t noticed this yet, but fat women can be awesome, brilliant, successful, and happy!

You also seem to need a prescription for better hindsight.  The entire world has watched you as you’ve ridden the dieting roller coaster over decades.  Up! Down! Up! Down! Up!  WE know how hard you’ve tried.  How do you not remember it?  Quite literally the most successful woman in the world, and yet you think you failed all those diets, doctors, life coaches, and personal trainers?   Lady, they failed you.  And I’ve got news for you:  so will Weight Watchers.  Largely regarded as the best weight loss program in the world (without surgery, anyway), it still sucks big-time.    Because, among many other reasons not to use them, diets just don’t work.  (And you don’t need them anyway!)

Then there’s foresight.  I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you know that idiotic advice every woman has heard about buying the fancy dress in the size you want to be, as motivation to starve yourself into it?  And you know how those fancy dresses only get worn once, if ever?  Yeah.  Spending $43 million to buy part of Weight Watchers isn’t going to work any better than the fancy dress.   You can only fight biology for so long, and then, no matter how much money you have riding on it, the number on the scale will creep back up.  All you’ll accomplish is an inverse relationship between your scale and your stock prices.

And finally, insight.  You seem to have enough insight into your relationship with the women of the world to know that they’ll follow you on your newest roller coaster ride–you bet $43 million on it.  But do you realize the harm you’re leading them into?  The exacerbated self-hate and misplaced guilt?  The money that could have been spent on something worthwhile?  The devastating health effects of dieting?  (You get gall bladder surgery! And you get gall bladder surgery! You ALL get gall bladder surgery!)  Or, you know, all that time spent just waiting to be the women we know we can be?

So here’s my prescription for you:  Look at yourself in the mirror.  Tell your reflection that she’s loved and valuable, and that her worth does not rest on her pants size.  She can stop striving for the impossible, and spend her time, energy, and money on real things.  Loved ones and time in the sunshine and good books and maybe even a piece of cake, a better world and a better understanding of what really matters in it.  And freedom to enjoy it without the gloomy cloud of body hate following her around!

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