I want to publicly register my disgust for this commercial.

Weight Watchers Commercial Screenshot

For the record, the lyrics read as follows:

If you’re happy and you know it eat a snack
If you’re happy and you know it eat a snack
If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it
If you’re happy and you know it eat a snack

If you’re sad and you know it eat a snack
If you’re sad and you know it eat a snack
If you’re sad because you’re angry
Feeling down or generally bad
If you’re sad eat a snack

If you’re bored and you know it eat a snack
If you’re lonely and you know it eat a snack
If you’re sleepy and you know it
If you’re guilty and you know it
If you’re stressed eat a snack

If you’re human and you know it, then your face will surely show it
If you’re human eat your feelings eat a snack

There are few things in this world that are harder to fight than an emotional eating habit. Feeling like you are beholden to feelings and compulsions you don’t understand; being called insane – “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results each time” or other some such nonsense; being shamed for not being able to permanently change those habits on your own, or cut the old habits cold turkey. Having words like “personal responsibility” and “will power” rubbed in your face, and feeling deep resentment of yourself because you don’t understand why it’s so hard to just permanently change it.

Life as an emotional eater – recovering or otherwise – is not easy. It is hard, it is cruel, and it is unforgiving: not only do you never forget your chosen vice or the way it made you feel, but you never forget the accompanying cycle of pain and bingeing and comfort and shame. Never.

I don’t like being reminded of my emotional eating habit. I use words like “recovery” to help me focus on being free of my habit, not succumbing to it. I think in terms of having a new life with a more sensible relationship with food, with the emotional eating being behind me.

It, however, is very difficult to put a habit behind me when so much of marketing is all about encouraging a loss of self control. When I open a fitness-centered magazine, and see a cute looking woman in activewear looking shifty-eyed as she shoves a candy granola bar down her throat with a caption that reads, “Go ahead, have another – no one’s looking,” I’m immediately triggered. When I slide down the bannister towards my subway platform and slide through the doors before they close, only to sit down across from an ad that pictures a pint of ice cream with a spoon, with a caption that reads, “My boyfriend dumped me,” I’m triggered.

And, when I see a commercial that runs for an entire sixty seconds that appears to be taking advantage of the fact that people are quite comfortable eating their feelings – or their boredom, at that – and implying that this is okay, telling people that Weight Watchers will help them “take care of the rest,” I’m triggered.

What else is there to take care of? What more could there be? If you eat when you’re sad, mad, bad, glad, a new dad, stressed, frustrated – if those are all the times when you are running to food instead of mindfully acknowledging when you are hungry or not, how much food you need, and whether what you’re choosing to eat will do you any good, don’t you think that is the problem?

We shove “will power” down people’s throats every day, and we rarely pay attention to how often our will power is challenged, or how often marketing will attempt to chip away at the will power we are constantly building. Some of us don’t have will power, and are desperately doing our best to build it. When unethical marketing like this commercial passively pretends to “understand” our struggle and offer us an “alternative” to solving that struggle instead of offering support in that struggle, then what? Then it undoes all the hard work of learning what will power is and what it will look like for each of us as individuals.

Even if the commercial isn’t about mocking the emotional eating struggle, it still implies that the every day habits of eating for everything and nothing at all aren’t the problem. Something else is, and you’ve got to go through Weight Watchers to figure it out.

No part of weight loss is proprietary information. None. You may choose support systems because they suit your personality and your willingness to commit, you may choose books and other resources to support you on your quest for knowledge, and you may even take up sports and activities you hate [at first] to help you get the job done. But there’s no way in hell I’d take any of that from an organization that represents itself by mocking one of the greatest challenges to overall health and fitness for so many.

What do you think? Am I off the mark, here, or do you agree? Let’s here it!