In Defense of Jennifer Hudson?

Very cool news:  There’s a new version of the Weight Watchers commercial that I blogged about.  More on that in a minute…

Recently my post about Jennifer Hudson’s Weight Watchers commercial:  “Jennifer Hudson, You Ungrateful Little…” created some controversy both on this blog and on Jezebel.com where it was picked up.

A lot of people disliked what I wrote.  Some felt that I mischaracterized Jennifer Hudson and the commercial – asserting that the commercial was about weight loss and that I took it out of context.  I think that those are very salient points. I freely admit that I view the world through my filter and that I may have mischaracterized Jennifer Hudson and the commercial because I see them through that filter. I could be wrong.

That being said, I stand by my interpretation.  I think that saying “before weight watchers my world was can’t” is absolutely including all past accomplishments under the umbrella of “can’t”.  Otherwise, I would expect that you would specify which parts of your world were can’t.  If I am wrong and I mischaracterized her then I sincerely apologize.

Some of the criticism was less… oh, let’s just say it was less salient.  Some just called me names and I was accused of being the cause of the “obesity epidemic”.  I suppose I appreciate the sentiment and with me wielding that kind of power be prepared for a self-esteem and positive body image epidemic because it’s on the way…

Many people accused me of being angry that she lost weight.  That one pissed me off because I thought that I was pretty clear that my problem wasn’t with the weight loss, but with what I perceived to be a revisionist history of discounting her past achievements to sell a weight loss product using shame, guilt and fear to sell the idea that no matter what you accomplish, you’re never truly successful until you’re thin.

At any rate, there is now a new version of the commercial.  In it, Jennifer Hudson opens by saying “When it came to losing weight before Weight Watchers, my world was can’t”.

Thank you, that’s all I wanted.

I don’t know why or when they did it, but if my work played even the tiniest part in it, I’m overjoyed.  Hell, if my work played absolutely NO part in it, I’m still overjoyed.

People got so involved with defending Jennifer Hudson (and I feel that she deserved to be defended) and calling me names (that part seemed less necessary) that I think a lot of them missed the point of the blog so I’ll re-state it here:

Your life does not start 10 or 20 or 50 pounds from now. Your life has already started.  You will never get this time back, this day, this moment, this week – they are all gone. If you want to waste the time you have left waiting to be smaller that’s your option.  But if that’s how you’ve been living – are you maybe tired of that?  You DO have a choice, a choice nobody can ever take away from you – you can live an amazing life right now.

The way I know that is because I do. At 5’4, 280 pounds I have a fantastic life.  I am extremely healthy,  I have great friends, I date, I am succeeding in dance – a world completely dominated by a culture of “thinner is better”.  You can do it too. Even if you are trying to change the size of shape of your body, why not be happy and lead a fantastic life while you’re at it?

If you’re looking for a place to start, you might check out this post on Loving Your Body More in Three Simple Steps.

Note:  No, I will not be posting links to the commercials here.  This is not the place for diet commercials.

Published in: on September 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm  Comments (21)  

21 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That is absolutely amazing – just as you are. My favourite line in this: “Even if you are trying to change the size of shape of your body, why not be happy and lead a fantastic life while you’re at it?” Way to lead by example.

    • I was going to say the exact same thing . This is the best part of this whole article!!! WTG Ragen!!!

  2. 5″4 280 , uhmm that is not fantastic or healthy. That is high blood presurre, or diabetes waiting to happen. Also they more than likely shot more than one commercial the same day the first one was filled. I highly doubt they care what you or anyone else who is complaining about the commercials says. They will still be a million dollar company,without your support.

    • Since you’ve never seen Ragen’s Charts from the Doc, you have no idea what your talking about Lea, if you don’t like the blog and are just here to hate, don’t read it!!! You must be one pathetic person to make that kind of statement abotu someone you have no idea about!

  3. Dear Ragen,
    I’ve been following your blog for some time now, and I really enjoy reading it. Even if I think that you’re sometimes overdoing the “I’m so great”-thing, and am not yet fully convinced of the “weight has no impact on health”-argument, in general, reading your posts, I always feel relieved from a pressure that I didn’t even notice was there. Your positive way to look at things and people, your sharp analyses of commercials and statistics, and your persistent emphasis on the importance of self-esteem really rock!
    And returning to J. Hudson and her WW-campaign, I checked her out on youtube, and whatever she is saying literally, in the end, she is promoting a concept which tells people that they are wrong the way they are, and that to love themselves, they have to change their body (i.e. what they materially ARE). And this really IS disgusting!
    This whole thing of weight has never really been an issue for me, but your blog has opened my eyes for the perversity and cruelty of the diet industry. Thank you very much!
    Franka

    • Hi Franka,

      Thanks for reading. I’m glad that you like the blog and it’s totally cool that we don’t agree on everything :) I really appreciate considering what I have to say. It sounds like I may not have been clear about my opinions on weight and health. I don’t know if there is a causal relationship there – so far, there hasn’t been a single scientific study that I’ve seen that proves that there is a causal link, so that’s were I’m coming from. Thanks again for reading!

      ~Ragen

  4. I honestly believe Jennifer Hudson was speaking from her very own life experience(commercial). I also feel you made it personal. I believe Jhud is a very genuine person. One of the most authentic super stars of our time. Weight Watchers could not have choosen a better person to lead their company. I love Jen warm spirit and very kind heart. She is one of most humbled and very grounded artist in the business today hands down. Jhud was always a very beautiful and fabulous young lady even before the weight loss. Now with the new transformation she hell of gorgeous and very flawless. Keep up the great work Jenny!!!

    • I’m sorry but I have to poke at this. I don’t mean..well, ok I *do* mean to be a little snarky about this but at least I’m giving fair warning but I’d really like to know your thought process behind this (people may mistake questions for arguments): “Jhud was always a very beautiful and fabulous young lady even before the weight loss. Now with the new transformation she hell of gorgeous and very flawless.”
      Doesn’t the second sentence completely negate the first? Why does someone who is “genuine” and “authentic” need to lose weight, or gain weight, or make any kind of change to herself?
      So before she was thin she was beautiful and now that she’s thin she is gorgeous? If she was awesome/genuine/beautiful etc. before WW then why did she *do* WW and why should anyone else? I haven’t seen the commercial, but does Ms. Hudson talk about her weight loss in terms of health, or does she (like all spokespeople seem to) focus on vague descriptions of higher self-esteem and/or improved value/quality of life? Does she say she gets more work now that she’s skinnier? If she was awesome why did she need to lose weight, and why does losing weight (and telling others they should too) automatically make her awesome?
      I realize this may come off as argumentative but I am genuinely confused about why people are ‘defending’ her. I don’t think she is being attacked or needs defending…

  5. It’s not as though Jennifer Hudson is the first to come along and say that nothing in her life or she was never happy until she was thin. This is unfortunately a common trend and reflection on our society. Way to stick to your guns!

  6. Okay, first off, Lea, if you actually followed the blog, you would know that the author frequently has her health checked on (as she is a dancer and they get a lot of injuries) and she does not have high blood pressure, diabetes, or any of the sort. Her doctors always tell her she is in great condition. And secondly, of course, your nihilistic attitude is extremely problematic. The diet industry makes billions off telling people that their bodies are NEVER good enough (and that includes everyone) by creating a vicious cycle of body-hatred – well, once you are thin enough – you can’t have split ends, or bad cuticles, uneven toe nails, etc. Ragen does fantastic work promoting self-love and body – love it here and now regardless of whether or not you are working on getting thiner or not. You could have at least had the decency to read the author’s blog and get an idea of what she is aiming for before you condemn her and her to self-delusion.

    And Norma, I am sure Jennifer Hudson was being genuine, too, which makes it even sadder that she feels nothing has meant as much to her as being thin has.

    Ragen, I realize you are perfectly capable of supporting yourself eloquently, but, well, that riled me.

    • Jenna: Jenny did not say that you are lying. If you were a Jhud follower you would have known. Jen has stated time after time that she have always been very comfortable with herself big are small. She said that now she is at a very different time in her life and wants to make better life and health choices. All you Jhud HATERS need to move on and hate somewhere elsa. Like her are not. Jhud is a hellerable artist!!!(gorgeous, and fabulous)

      • No one is hating on Jennifer Hudson or denying her talent. IF you had read the article thoroughly, you would have seen Ragen’s critique was of how the commercial set her-up, not Jennifer Hudson. Seeing Ragen’s critique as hating on Jennifer Hudson frames the whole thing in black or white, which is certainly not what she was doing.

  7. She may not have health problems now, but they will show up. U r a fool to believe they will not. 280 pounds on a person ONLY 5″4 is not good. This has nothing to do with loving your self and all about your health. Why don’t u get that??? Jennifer has always been confident no matter how much she weighs, its only a commercial. About time for u all to move on, and find something more important to talk about.

    • Lea,

      First of all, thank you for taking the time to read the blog and making the effort to reply. Your opinions about my health are not supported by facts or research so I must admit to finding myself a bit underwhelmed at the gesture. I approve all of the comments on my blog so rest assured there will always be a place for you use your limited time on Earth to make unfounded guesses and vague threats about the current and future health of a stranger.

      You’ve also managed to be somewhat of a master at missing the point. I’ve now stated the point in two different blogs so at this juncture I will just be honest that I’m disinclined to bother attempting to explain it again as my assumption is that you are either incapable of grasping it or simply do not wish to do so. As always I may be wrong on that but, this being my blog, it’s a choice I’m making.

      If, as you assert, these things are not important to talk about then this is probably not the blog for you. I do find myself experiencing a bit of third party cognitive dissonance however since you claim a lack of importance and yet you’ve taken the time to comment. Twice. Perhaps you just don’t value your time, in which case I’d refer you to my posts about self-esteem. Or perhaps you’re one of those people who fancies herself wise and thinks that she is doing us all a service by conferring upon us knowledge and advice, not caring that it is wholly unsolicited and unsupported by facts. If that is who you hope to be, then may I humbly give you some advice in return and suggest at a bare minimum a closer attention to proofreading, and making the necessary effort to type out three letter words. I think that the use of the phrase “U r a fool”, while delicious in its irony, is unlikely to connote wisdom. As always, these are just my opinions. Thank you for taking the time to interact on my blog and best of luck to you. ~Ragen

  8. I came across this blog through the Jezebel post. Although I disagree with your original interpretation of the commercial, I very much appreciate that you recognized the validity of opposing points of view and let others voice their disagreement. Thanks. I’ve bookmarked your blog and will be a frequent reader.

    • Thanks, I really appreciate that! I hope you enjoy the blog. ~Ragen

  9. “lea” and “norma” are a couple of illogical fanatics of Jennifer Hudson and are literally ruining Ms. Hudson’s fan base with their hateful attacks on people who happen to give their truthful and or honest opinion on Jennifer Hudson. (key words being their and opinion). They are a problem for Jennifer Hudson not an asset. To the author of this blog, you’re wasting your time responding back to the for they can not comprehend the message that you are trying to get across.

  10. She said before weight watchers she had a strict diet and couldn’t eat certain things. It had nothing to do with her accomplishments.

  11. You posted another article saying you may have been wrong just to back peddle and go back to your original statement. Whatever its your opinion, but the fact that you are twisting this commercial to make it seem like Jenn is in someway telling people they are wrong for their size or whatever is just wrong.

    Anyway my only reason for posting a comment at all is why haven’t you called Sara Rue an ungrateful little anything for her sponsorship of Jenny Craig. She comes right out and says that her weight made her not want to do things or be social to me that is over the top but you chose to single out Jennifer. It just seems a little lop sided. I see that damn Jenny Craig commercial constantly but you singled out Jennifer. Please don’t say that Sara’s commercial is old b/c I just saw a new one this past weekend.

    I just want a valid reason why you, and this is for your other posters also, are so offended and appalled at Jennifer’s commercial but nobody has anything to say about Sara’s commercials. Why don’t you write an equally harsh article about how disgusted you are with Sara??

    • Ok, first of all I didn’t back down from my position. The way that you can tell that is by re-reading the sentence that starts “That being said, I stand by my original interpretation…”

      I wrote a new blog because:

      1. They released a different version of the commercial

      2. People missed the point and I wanted to give them another shot at it

      3. I know that there are at least two sides to every story and I thought that her fans and those who disagreed with me did such a poor job of defending her that I was compelled to do it myself.

      I’ve always maintained that I might be wrong in everything that I say. I am clear that my opinions are just that and that it’s quite valid for people to disagree with me. You and I don’t seem to share that point of view as you’ve repeatedly stated your opinions as if they are facts in your comments.

      I never said that Jennifer Hudson was saying that people were wrong for their size. At this point I’m not sure if you aren’t capable of grasping the point, if you don’t want to, if your fandom of Jennifer Hudson is clouding your critical reading, or if it’s something else, but I give up trying to help you understand my opinion.

      Nobody owes you a reason (valid or otherwise) about why I blogged about Jennifer Hudson and not Sara Rue. This is my blog, I write about whatever I feel like writing about. Nobody is paying me to write it and nobody is required to read it. I will tell you that my reason is that I don’t know who Sara Rue is and I’ve never seen her commercials. I don’t watch much television and the only reason I caught Ms. Hudson’s ad was because I saw it at a friend’s house. If I saw the Sara Rue ad and if I felt like blogging about it, I would. But then Sara’s fans would ask why I don’t write about Kirstie Alley’s ads whose fans would ask why I didn’t write about Valerie Bertinelli’s ads… and if I wrote about every diet ad then that’s all my blog would be about and that’s not all I want my blog to be about.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      • And that was my point of the post to begin with you just picked Jennifer to single out when countless celebrities have jumped on the weight-loss bandwagon. Hope you received all the attention that you were looking for as you stepped on Jenn to get it. *oh wait quick let me add* (In My Opinion)!


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