I’m very short, so I just have to watch my weight because I have a big appetite. —Dolly Parton
There may be more nudes in the May/June edition of Weight Watchers magazine than there are in Playboy.
I know, that doesn’t sound right, does it? While we’ve mourned the loss of nudes in Playboy previously, I never expected that Weight Watchers would be picking up the slack, and possibly even doing a better job than the venerable men’s magazine. Interestingly enough, there is shared reasoning behind both moves, though. Society’s concept of nudity is gradually shifting from one driven by sexuality to one driven by acceptance and self-expression. Nudity now is more about making a statement than showing off one’s body for sexual pleasure. So, good-bye Playboy, hello Weight Watchers.
Though we tend to think of Weight Watchers strictly as a diet plan, founder Jean Nidetch has always emphasized the portion of the program that involves community support and personal acceptance. Weight Watchers now teaches the need for people to accept who and what they are before they begin dieting. The premise is that if one cannot accept who they are with the added weight, they’ll not be happy with themselves even after dieting.
A positive self-image has also shown to be critical in the success of any body improvement plan, even if it doesn’t involve the type of weight loss normally attributed to dieting. How we see ourselves, our ability to accept who we are even with whatever flaws we may have, real or imagined, influences the degree to which any form of improvement can work. A negative attitude about who we are dooms even the best efforts.
Weight Watchers magazine editor Theresa DiMasi says:
“One thing we hear over and over again is that life doesn’t start until you’re 30 pounds thinner. For women, this negative self-body talk keeps coming up over and over. But one of the things that happens in Weight Watchers is that, along your journey, you start accepting yourself. You start talking about yourself positively and building a new outlook on your body.”
With that concept in mind, the Weight Watchers team went looking for volunteers who have conquered the acceptance issue sufficiently to take off their clothes. They found 11 women, ranging from a 29-year-old career woman to a 55-year-old grandmother, with the confidence to appear with all or most their clothes off. The black and white photos are unedited, so things common to bodies such as wrinkles, cellulite, and stretch marks are visible. Yet, with implied poses carefully chosen, the photographs hold no reason for shame. These are women who are happy, full of life, and proud of where they are on their journey.
While I will stop short of doing an Oprah and endorsing the entire program, I see what Weight Watchers is doing as a good thing for everyone, not just those whose need to lose weight. I am thoroughly convinced that our national self-esteem problem dovetails directly into our national obesity problem, with one, pardon the pun, feeding off the other. As we feel better and are more accepting of ourselves, we are in a better mental and emotional state to handle the discipline necessary to not only address weight but other health problems that may result from our own lifestyle choices.
Accepting and being proud of our bodies in their most vulnerable state is about as strong an expression of self-worth as can be made. There is strength in these nude images that Playboy and magazines like them could never touch. The messages the nudes send is as positive and self-affirming as any ever could be. I hope we see more.
While the May/June issues of the Weight Watchers magazine is not yet online, you can view some of the images in a related story on AdWeek.