“Weight Watchers: How they make their millions” The Dispatches post mortem

Published January 29, 2013 by Crystal

Did you watch last night’s Dispatches?

In weight loss circles, particularly WW followers, there was uproar.  “It was one sided”, “The reporter didn’t do it right”, “She didn’t speak to successful weight loss members”.

It was quite biased, I’ll agree to that, but I also found it quite lazy journalism.

Jane Moore spent one week on the plan, and didn’t go to a class.  She experienced the 26 points a day and feeling extremely hungry on it, and getting bored thinking constantly about food.  But she didn’t experience the classes, the euphoria at losing 2lbs, or the shame and anxiety and gaining half a pound.  She didn’t get to see what happened regularly in class, after the queuing and weighing in.  She went only on other people’s experiences, and the people she spoke to were not the huge success stories that many WWers are claiming exist in classes everywhere.

I went to classes.   I remember the waiting to weigh, the going to the loo beforehand, taking every item of clothing and jewellery off that might add to the ounces.  I remember the leader’s former fatty photo at the front of the class.  In fact I’ll be the first to admit the consultant of the class I went to was lovely, and stunning and very inspiring.  She had a friendly manner and remembered everyone.  But even with all that, I ended up with the most unhealthy body image.  “Skinny” became the holy grail.  I lost more weight than I ever had before and could fit a size I’d only ever dreamed of.  But it wasn’t enough. I wanted lighter and lighter, changed my goals because even at my lighter I believed I was fat and there was room for improvement.  And the thing is, no one in class saw a problem with it.  Slim was the goal, after all. It was family and friends who’d show the concern, “you look great now, enough is enough”.

At some point I snapped.  The endless soups and naked salads had taken their toll, and once I tasted my old food friends again, the ones that had brought comfort before skinny became my obsession were once again bringing comfort. Because actually, ultimately, being slim hadn’t brought the answers and the dream life I had been seeking.  I wasn’t healthy.  I was passing out in restaurants from hunger.  I didn’t exercise much, and if I did it was with a goal to earn more points, not because I enjoyed it!  I was lighter, lifting myself was easier when I was lighter, but I had no tone.  I guess I could call myself skinny fat back then.

Weight Watchers obviously does work for some, they’re very vocal about it, and I am happy for them.  But for me it just added to the food and body image issues I already had.

I am glad that gradually there is a movement against dieting, and more importantly against negative body image.  Look at our young people.  They want boob ops and lipo even before they’ve left puberty.  Do we really want this to get any worse?

Something needs to change.

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