Those Jennifer Hudson, Charles Barkley, and Janet Jackson Weight-Loss Commercials

Companies targeting black folks using commercials is nothing new.  But for weight-loss products?

Janet‘s may be the sexiest one, but Charles is playing it strictly for laughs to get the guys getting up and getting it going.  And Jennifer?  Well, before and after always tells the tale, but this new version—-of Jennifer’s final weight—-is so dramatic and transformative I know that it has startled and motivated a lot of black women to get up offa that thing.  Plus, her efforts  got a write-up before New Year‘s with Good Morning America.

On the left, Hudson in 2004, at 23, on “American Idol.” On the right, Hudson now, 30-years-old and 80 pounds lighter. She sings The Four Tops’ “I Believe in You and Me” as Weight Watcher’s slogan: Believe, Because It Works, appears behind her.

Hudson became the spokesperson for the weight loss program in 2010. Her commitment to getting fit also led her to walk away from the lead role in the Oscar-winning film Precious. In her new book, I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down, Hudson writes that after putting on pounds for “Dreamgirls” (which won her an Oscar) she ”wanted to try a role that had nothing whatsoever to do with my weight.”

Frankly, I think that she did right to walk away from Precious, not that the role would have been detrimental to her career, but because Hudson is too glamorous-looking to play downtrodden.  I’m glad that she’s kept off the weight, but I would also like to see her get some more roles as a result of showing how lovely she is now.

Thin equals capable?  No, I’m not convinced of that, because there are a lot of incapable, thin actresses (workers) in Hollywood (and elsewhere) of whatever color.  Thin merely enhances Hudson’s drawing power, and extends her life health-wise.  Remember the early, unnecessary deaths of Mia Amber Davis, and most recently of  Heavy D, deaths that could have been avoided if they were less sedentary and weighed a little less.

We all don’t need to look like human stick figures; actors and actresses need to be thinner because the camera is merciless and shows every little physical demerit.  We just need to eat smaller portions and move more.  Even if it is walking briskly around the block after lunch and after dinner.

And then there is “Sir” Charles Barkley, who almost shot himself in the knee caps a few days ago for being caught saying that that his Weight Watchers gig was a scam.  Sorry, I’ve been there, and Weight Watchers is no scam; it’s common sense and lots of patience.  Naturally, being a guy, Barkley is going to lose with a quickness, and he has admitted that he has lost nearly 40 lbs. on the program.  Nobody gets fat overnight; therefore, one has to watch it go over a long, careful period of time.  However,when you endorse and represent a company, you’ve got watch what you say, or people—especially the media—-will take it the wrong way.

“I’ve been on Weight Watchers three months. I have to lose two pounds a week. I’m at 38 pounds now. They come and weigh me every two weeks. I ain’t never missed a weigh-in. Never going to… I’m feeling much better. But I ain’t giving away no money. I’m not giving away no free money. I thought this was the greatest scam going — getting paid for watching sports — this Weight Watchers thing is a bigger scam.”

Barkley wasn’t mocking the actual program, because again, it has clearly worked for him. He was simply pointing out that getting paid to have people help you lose weight is basically stealing money.

Luckily, Weight Watchers took the high road and issued a statement saying that “We love Charles for the same reason everyone loves Charles, he’s unfiltered. We are thrilled that he is having great success and inspiring millions of men to join him. We agree that being a spokesman for Weight Watchers is a pretty great gig.”

What Weight Watchers said was true.  Barkley may be inspiring millions of men to lose weight, especially porky black (and Latino) men, young as well as old, to get that weight down.  Prior to Barkley’s signing onto Weight Watchers, his recent photos showed that he was beginning to sprout man boobs.

Barkley signed onto the company in December for their new “Lose Like a Man” campaign and has appeared in a variety of  TV commercials and other ads.

“I come from Alabama, a state that has struggled with obesity for years,” he said in a press release announcing his endorsement. “I mean it is the heart of the South – we love food. Now that I’m following Weight Watchers, I’m learning a whole new way to eat. Not only can I keep eating my favorites like meatballs and chicken wings, but I’ve discovered a world of new foods that are helping me to shed the pounds. I have eaten more fruit and vegetables in the past few months than I have in the past 30 years.”

In an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this week, he added the program had been affecting his wardrobe choices.

“I have two wardrobes: A skinny wardrobe and a fat wardrobe,” Barkley told Stewart. “This (suit) is part of my skinny wardrobe, but see I’m going to lose some more weight, so I got to get another wardrobe made.”

Charles Barkley’s weight, it is safe to say, had ballooned to between 350-400 lbs, although one official report claimed that he was just about 252 lbs.  At about 6’5″, Barkley was one of the shortest guys in basketball, but just because he is tall doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to lose weight or that the height would absorb his weight.  He’s retired, therefore, he should be down in the low 200s and below range.

And now, Janet, who at 45 has always had a weight problem, yo-yoing up and down.  So now she’s on Nutrisystem, and the results are in.  This is the director’s cut of the commercial, over 2 minutes long.

Of course, other observers are looking at this phenomenon as the latest method by which entertainers like Janet, JHud, Mariah Carey, and Queen Latifah can enhance their marketability when their careers stagnate.  From The Daily Beast:

Then, just before Christmas, Janet Jackson debuted her fast-paced, conversational-style ads for Nutrisystem, in which she explains her three-decade struggle with her weight and how Nutrisystem has helped her keep the pounds off.


But as many welcome the new stream of revenue and major exposure for women of color on the small screen, others question the underlying message of the ads.

“I was really surprised when I saw Janet Jackson doing a weight-loss commercial,” said Fred Mwangaguhunga, editor of the popular African-African entertainment website “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.”

What Jackson, Hudson, and [Mariah] Carey all seem to have are extra pounds that require much more than exercise to lose. African-Americans, and African-American women in particular, have struggled with the issue of weight and weight loss for years, often questioning whether European standards of beauty and size apply to other cultures and races.

“I see the commercials and I want to lose weight, but I’m not sure I want be Hollywood skinny,” said Leona Harris, a 31-year-old receptionist from Dallas. “I look at Jennifer and I look at Janet and I like the way they look, but I’m not sure I’m supposed to be that skinny or if I can be.”

I think that we have to look at the difference between being healthy and looking like a model or a actress.  Our ancestors—-before slavery—-were not necessarily overly thin or fat, but this also depended on what class status they occupied, as well as what foods they ate.  If our grandmother or aunt or baby brother dropped dead of a heart attack at 40, and they were heavy (and smoked), then there is something wrong here.  The message should also be, let’s get healthy, not just let’s get thinner and look good.   Being thin is a by-product of eating healthy and in reasonable portions and not too many helpings, and not the other way around.

I think that we also have to look at the fact that food can be an addiction, and that some of us may have to join Overeaters Anonymous, too.  Putting Weight Watchers online was a good idea.  However, the idea of going to a WW meeting once or twice a week was also an opportunity to meet other men and women in the same situation and not feeling so isolated.  Listening and relating to some of the lectures that WW offers was also quite helpful to me when I was losing weight.

Nutrisystem to me is an acquired taste.  But with Weight Watchers, you aren’t limited, unless you want to use their frozen foods exclusively.  With some people, broiling instead of frying sounds like apostasy, but if it means breathing a while longer in this saha world, some life-saving accommodations have to be made.  Maybe the time is now, people, and not sometime in the future.

~ by blksista on January 8, 2012.

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