Black women and weight loss is something of a literary two-headed monster, but with Jennifer Hudson, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey promoting weight loss products between football games and prime-time television sitcoms, the subject is not only becoming less contentious, but it is also reviving black actresses’ careers, The Daily Beast reports.
Hudson is the most well-known for her dramatic weight loss and endorsement of Weight Watchers. The Daily Beast reports that the former “American Idol” star’s very public victory over her weight improved her health, while keeping her in the public eye amid the dearth of acting roles for African-American women:
By signing on as a weight-loss spokeswoman, Hudson may have shed 80 pounds, but with eye-catching commercials showcasing her newly svelte figure and incredible vocal range, she gained much more. Her highly stylized ads for Weight Watchers received a dizzying amount of airtime in 2010 and 2011, earning her a level of visibility few film roles or hit singles could provide.
I knew who Jennifer Hudson was from Dreamgirls and her family tragedy, but that was about it,” said Lisa Franklin, a 55-year-old teacher from Boston. “But after the Weight Watchers commercials, I really knew who she was, because those commercials came on six or eight times a day and she looked good.
That Franklin recognized Hudson only from those two life-altering events reveals how vital the Weight Watchers commercials have been in sustaining image in the public eye.
Another black female superstar who has boarded the weight loss-promotion train is Jackson. According to the DailyBeast, her promotion of Nutrisystem seems to be as much about career vitality as it is about health consciousness:
I was really surprised when I saw Janet Jackson doing a weight-loss commercial,” said Fred Mwangaguhunga, editor of the popular African-African entertainment website MediaTakeout.com. “I don’t think this is something she would have done five years ago, given her personality. But times have changed and the way you have to sell yourself has changed, so you use what you have.
Perhaps these weight loss commercials will help give black women the control needed to create their own narratives of African-American imagery and femininity for public discourse.