Home Health On The Small Screen I Hate This Damn Weight Watchers Commercial

I Hate This Damn Weight Watchers Commercial

by Erika Nicole Kendall

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 banister 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 hear it!

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Goldie December 15, 2014 - 3:02 PM

I don’t think a commercial has turned me off so fast in my life. I turned to my husband and was just like “that’s f* rude”. Where’s the compassion? It reminds me of when we had that “tough gym” here in Denver where the guy was spouting some of the most hateful nonsense at his clients and non-clients alike and his excuse was “they need it”. I got my own itemized list of failures and faults. I know exactly where I fall short, because I’m already my own worst critic. Making light of it, poking fun at it, none of it is cute.

MIlaxx December 16, 2014 - 1:58 PM

YES!!! To all of this. I hate this stupid commercial with the fury of a thousand burning suns! It’s insulting & mocking of the very same people they claim to want to help.

Lily December 17, 2014 - 3:54 PM

With all due respect, I had different reaction. I felt the commercial acknowledged that humans in our culture don’t learn how to be comfortable with any feelings, good or bad. People of all sizes eat instead of “feeling their feelings” — and many feel shame over this, also regardless of size. Some compensate for their eating in unhealthy ways and some brag about the compensatory behavior–often skinny celebrities (I’ll have to be in the gym all day tomorrow). And some humans do more destructive things than eat to escape their feelings. I thought the commercial was saying, this is human behavior and it’s hard to change it–WW can help with the hard part. I think they are saying this is the hard part. I don’t necessarily agree that WW can help … but that’s another story. Thanks for letting me share my reaction to the commercial.

Erika Nicole Kendall December 17, 2014 - 4:03 PM

Someone else brought that up – the idea that they’re identifying THIS as “the hard part” – but, when I went looking for different edits of the commercial, some of the other versions – 15sec, 30sec, and 60sec – implied otherwise, and the lack of clarity felt too intentional to me, you know? Almost to imply, “yeah, this is human, but then there’s also that ‘getting fat’ thing that’s really hard to deal with on your own.” It just makes me SUPER uncomfortable.

You’re always welcome to share, Lily! 🙂

ally December 18, 2014 - 12:12 AM

Lily I agree with you. I believe that WW through their commercial was trying to empathize with the average dieter who have to deal with all “hard parts” about losing weight—emotional, behavioral and everything inbetween. I would rather they be honest and forthright rather than misleading like other weightloss company selling lies and fantasies (Trimspa, Zenadrin or nutri system–who can eat that nasty stuff for life?

Jessica Benjamin December 17, 2014 - 5:11 PM


Erika Nicole Kendall December 17, 2014 - 5:16 PM

Aside from the fact that I don’t understand the point of all capital letters…

…that’s just factually inaccurate. In fact, turning success stories into brand evangelists who can run around telling people “Oh, I’m a ‘lifetime member’ of Weight Watchers!” is the most brilliant form of marketing a weight loss company can have. If you’re continuously going to ‘meetings’ as a lifetime member who believes they need those meetings to remain successful, you’ll also continuously be talking about their meetings. You’re basically free advertising – they make WAY more money off of you as a brand evangelist than they EVER could by just taking your money.

I mean, come on. Let’s think like businesswomen, here.

Jennie December 24, 2014 - 1:49 AM

I agree with Lily. I’ve been through WW (I still track points by myself but don’t attend meetings anymore) and I know the big push they have to deal with emotions healthfully instead of eating. In fact, the meetings are basically a support group on how to not eat your feelings.

Erika Nicole Kendall December 26, 2014 - 3:32 PM

I can appreciate your experience, while still acknowledging that this commercial is an incredibly and embarrassingly gross way to express that. You don’t have to show me my humanity by shaming me and mocking my plight. It’s insensitive, and it makes me question the validity of ANY program they’d have.

Comments are closed.