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Weight Watchers Does Not “Help With the Hard Part”

Recently, Weight Watchers released an ad called “My Butt,” which chronicles a woman’s butt throughout her life and how her butt has increased in size throughout the years. At the end, the woman says: “I finally realized, my relationship with my butt had nothing to do with my butt and everything to do with my brain” as they show the woman putting food into her mouth.

This is part of Weight Watcher’s “Help with the Hard Part” campaign, in which they say that their program helps with the issue they believe causes someone to be overweight- emotional eating.

I have done Weight Watchers numerous times. Once I lost the weight and kept it off for the coveted over 2 year mark! I was a Weight Watcher’s success, and yet, I was not, because Weight Watchers never helped with the hard part. It made the hard part even harder.

And so, I have a message for Weight Watchers:

Dear Weight Watchers,

I understand that you are well intentioned and have a great track record of helping people loose weight, even though most of them do not keep it off or even make it to “lifetime membership.” The Weight Watchers leaders are kind, and I have never met one that did not have my well-being in mind. But I also know now that I did not meet one that was ever trained properly in health, nutrition, and body acceptance.

I lost 35lbs. on Weight Watchers and kept it off for just over two years by eating Weight Watchers packaged foods and all of the other foods that were brought into the meetings, which were promoted as “low points” foods. I mainly lost weight because I literally made myself sick on eating highly processed, fake foods that gave me constant stomach pain and diarrhea.

While, technically, Weight Watchers promotes healthy eating and a balanced diet, we know that it does not work that way in the meeting room. Everyone brings in packages of the latest foods they find which they can “get away with eating.” We all stock our pantries each week from the shelves and shelves of fake foods sold by Weight Watchers at the meetings. In my years with Weight Watchers, I attended meetings in two different states and three different meeting sites, and these issues were present at all of them.

Weight Watchers, you did not help me with the hard part. Instead, you taught me to take my disordered eating skills to the next level. I learned how to optimize my binge foods. I wanted ice cream and would binge on it, so my Weight Watchers leader told me about Skinny Cow ice cream bars, at 2 points each (at the time), which, she was proud to inform me, meant “you can eat two or three of these at a time!” I knew exactly what meal I could order at McDonald’s (one of my binge sites) that stayed within 7 points. Weight Watcher’s reminds you, every week, that you can eat anything and still loose weight. So I learned that I could binge at McDonald’s twice, and then fill up the rest of the day on 0 point vegetables and still loose weight. Bonus points if I exercised a lot, which I did with training for two half marathons.

I agree that my issues with my butt and body have nothing to do with my butt and everything to do with my brain. The problem was that my brain did not know that there was nothing wrong with my butt, no matter what size it was.

Weight Watchers told me over and over again that there was something wrong with my butt, due to it’s size. They told me the way to combat that butt problem was to make my brain sicker and sicker by totally ignoring the binge eating disorder I was honest about with my leaders, and in my food journal. I was, instead, taught how to maximize my binge eating disorder to get everything I ever wanted: dysfunctional eating, and a smaller butt! The message was: as long as I got my butt to the right size, my brain could be in immense pain and agony for the rest of my life.

I recently wrote a blog post called “My Butt Epiphany,” which shows that my brain is finally healing. I am in a treatment program for Binge Eating Disorder. A program that does not focus on losing weight and telling me what foods are “good and bad,” “free or not,” “high points or low points,” or how to eat binge foods and still not gain weight. My brain is healing because I have learned to love my butt and combat the messages the media and diet industry shower upon us every day in order to make money.

When I see add’s like your “My Butt” video, I am saddened. Saddened that with a bit of work you could actually figure out how to help people who want to loose weight do so in a healthy way (not focusing much on weight at all actually.) You could learn when to refer out people who have eating disorders that come into your meeting rooms. (Note: Not all people who are bigger have an eating disorder, in fact, most do not.) You could learn to be body positive, and focus on health rather than a number on the scale.

I am also sad that you thought any of iterations of the woman’s butt in the video was a bad butt. Every image of her butt was stinking fantastic. What message are you trying to send? I can tell you what my ten-year-old son learned from that add. He learned that a hard working woman with a great life was supposed to be ashamed of her perfectly awesome butt and body, and apparently she also had a problem with her brain. Which leads me to my last point: you are unqualified to help people with their brain.

You are not psychologists, psychiatrists, or therapists who are trained in treating eating disorders or any other brain health issue. You should not, in any way, be advertising that you can help people with their brains. It is irresponsible and makes true mental illnesses and eating disorders look trivial and fake.

So, Weight Watchers, I would like you to look at the two pictures in this post. My butt on Weight Watchers was 25lbs. smaller than my current butt off Weight Watchers. What I know now, now that I have worked with a mental health professional on my brain, is that my butt at both times is amazing! I know that I am amazing no matter the size of any of my body parts. I can stay this size forever and be totally healthy and happy!

Please, if you want to provide “help with the hard part,” then stop making such shaming ads, such as “My Butt” and “If You’re Happy” (which is a huge issue as well, as articulated in this article.)


Rev. Katie

(P.S.: I know there are people for whom Weight Watchers works and is really helping them. That is fantastic! Keep on with your awesome self! This post is to raise awareness for the many, many people that Weight Watchers does not work for and which has been detrimental to their health and wellbeing.)

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