Weight Watchers sheds its name for a new look

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Graphic by Kash Pate

Weight Watchers, the American weight-loss support group that was founded in 1963 by homemaker Jean Nidetch, has recently taken a slightly different direction with their approach to weight management.

The company officially changed their name to WW in late September, shifting their brand and focus towards “health and wellness” rather than just dieting and shedding pounds. Seemingly moving away from their diet-central image, WW is transitioning into a common trend seen across social media, one that’s been a buzz-worthy topic promoted by blogger-style “influencers.”

The wellness approach to healthy living is becoming increasingly popular in the world of fitness and body image focus.

So, it’s no surprise that a company that began in the 60’s — one that was primarily targeted towards housewives who were made to feel like they needed to lose weight — is attempting to change the worn-out perceptions associated with their branding.

As a well-known stakeholder and company board member, Oprah Winfrey has served as a spokesperson and a face for WW for years and her association with WW has been a forcefully portrayed positive one.

With Oprah promoting their rebrand so enthusiastically and new “ambassadors” being added to their company list, including actor Kevin Smith, DJ Khaled and celebrity chef Eric Greenspan, WW seems to be pushing positivity and their well-paid support as much as possible.

WW is still part of a culture that encourages restrictive eating and encourages, whether intentionally or not, skewed perceptions of what it means to be healthy and happy with your body.  Living a healthy lifestyle is something that countless people struggle with every day. It isn’t an inherently bad thing to strive towards improved habits that better your physical and mental well-being.

Dieting has been proven to be an ineffective method for sustainable, long-term weight management.

The number of people who turn to diets in order to lose weight has been declining. But no matter how many ad campaigns they want to use with DJ Khaled’s face plastered over them and claims that their plans “really do work,” they will ultimately be the same company they started out as.

Wellness and its holistic approach to health are reportedly worth $3.4 trillion globally.

Given that it’s pushing dieting out with its popularity (which is for the best), it would make sense that WW would want to jump on the bandwagon that will inevitably make them the most money.

WW is still part of a culture that encourages restrictive eating and encourages, whether intentionally or not, skewed perceptions of what it means to be healthy and happy with your body.  Living a healthy lifestyle is something that countless people struggle with every day. It isn’t an inherently bad thing to strive towards improved habits that better your physical and mental well-being.

But when you look past their tacky marketing schemes, it’s easy to see through the flimsy guise and 21st-century makeover, and see that WW is nothing more than a company capitalizing on the body positivity movement while contributing nothing remarkable or progressive to it in return.

WW has lined their pockets for decades by telling women they’re fat, over-emotional eaters who just need to portion size more effectively and turn to their fellow dieters to hold them accountable when it comes to managing their indulgent meal habits.

Sprinkle in some meditation, green juicing and yoga and you have the same smug company you did before — sitting pretty like Gwyneth Paltrow behind her similarly advertised wellness brand, Goop.

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