Just when I was thinking about rejoining Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time, I read an essay in The New York Times by Jennifer Weiner (author of The Devil Wears Prada and other books) entitled One Day We Can Stop Trying, Right? Weiner condemns the pervasive commercial and media pressure on women to maintain a standard of beauty that is unrealistic and downright punitive. She particularly criticizes Oprah Winfrey for once again bending under the yoke of being less than perfect by literally buying into (ten percent of the company) and representing the Weight Watchers brand. This is a woman who rose from desperate poverty in racially segregated Mississippi to become the personification of successful womanhood. How many of us have created a multi-media empire, built and sustained a successful school for girls in Africa and otherwise positively inspired millions of women around the world? Her one tiny failing? She weighs more than the fashion mags suggest she should. If Oprah is feeling dissatisfied, what chance do we mortals have?
While I am definitely not advocating being unhealthy or condoning bad eating habits, it’s troubling that as women we spend far too much time and emotional energy worrying about our weight. Weiner observes that the bar has been raised by the likes of Jane Fonda and other celebrities looking fabulous into their sixties, seventies and eighties. It’s a superficial yardstick that has ruined the otherwise productive and successful lives of millions of women. Why can’t we just say good on them, accept that we will never have the money or motivation to look like they do and get on with our normal lives, free from the guilt-causing, calorie-counting, carb-eliminating and fat-busting imaginary masochist sitting on our shoulders telling us otherwise.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just snip that little thread of brain transmitter that sends the message telling us we’re only of value if we’re thin? Imagine how wonderful life would be if we could sail through the last half of our lives not trying to look like we did in the first half? Perhaps we could persuade genetic scientists to isolate that tiny genome that governs self-image and modify it so that once we’re menopausal we would only perceive ourselves as beautiful and perfect regardless of our outward appearance. We felt invincible and perfect in every way when we were very young children, before bullying and peer pressure entered the picture in elementary school. If only we could achieve that blissful state of self-confidence with the status quo once again.
It’s tempting to seek justification for not joining Weight Watchers again! In fact, I think their programs promote healthy and achievable goals for eating. But I hate that I care about losing fourteen pounds. I empathize with Oprah’s struggle. Maybe it’s the perfectionist Virgo within me. The last time I lost weight on the Weight Watchers’ programme, I felt much better about myself and my clothes fit better. Then I discovered Black Jack Cherry Frozen Yogurt and one pound at a time, put all those lost pounds back on. So until they isolate that elusive gene that allows me to feel unconditionally beautiful, I plan to take advantage of the “Join Free, Lose Ten Pounds on Us” promotion. I’ve done it before and sadly, I’ll probably do it again in 2017, 2018, and forever more. And curses on Black Jack Cherry frozen yogurt for coming between me and perfection. It’s a genetic failure for which I’m not responsible.
P.S. This is not a paid endorsement of Weight Watchers — although they probably should pay me!