In a segment for the show, Love talked about being an ambassador for the “reimagined” Weight Watchers or WW program. She shared with her co-hosts — Tamera Mowry-Housley, Adrienne Bailon, Jeannie Mai, and Amanda Seales — different plates of foods that can be broken down into “points” for people who use the program. The women then guessed how many points foods like salmon, turkey bacon and ice cream would be. The goal was to keep the daily diet under 36 points, and in most cases, the food items were less points than the women had predicted.
Love wrapped up the segment by saying, “Let me tell y’all, I did not know how to eat.” Then she breaks into tears and continued, “Growing up in the projects, we just had to eat what we could.”
“I know it sounds funny,” she continued, supposedly alluding to her crying. “But a lot of women in the African American community, we don’t know how to eat because we grew up that way.”
She ended with, “Thank you to WW because we wanted to do this to help our brothers and sisters…everybody but especially I see ya’ll out there. I see ya’ll at my comedy shows and ya’ll like we need to get healthier and that’s the reason why we’re doing this just to make ya aware of what’s happening in the community. You can eat and not starve and you can still lose weight.”
She finished by thanking WW again and “Oprah Winfrey for allowing us to do this because we have to get healthier y’all.” She then joked, “You want to beat the coronavirus, eat healthy.”
Oprah Winfrey has had a longtime relationship with Weight Watchers and they even sponsored her recent “2020 Vision” health and wellness tour.
Despite people like Love and Winfrey advocating for WW, many people online weren’t here for Love’s comments about Black women’s diets.
One Twitter user posted, “Loni has a deep rooted issue with black people and blackness in general that needs to be addressed. every chance she gets she pathologizes black behavior. case in point saying black people don’t know how to eat & ignoring the standard AMERICAN diet is unhealthy.”
Another user tweeted, “I’m tired of this puta. Loni is always running her mouth. It’s not that black people don’t know how to eat it’s about the lack of access. Research Food deserts sweetie.”
Many users also called out Weight Watchers as the problem with one user tweeting, “No shade to Loni who is a plus-sized black woman that will be dehumanized due to anti-blackness and fatphobia but WW isn’t gonna fix that. WW is a billion dollar corporation that will make their money off of individuals who feel they need to he thin or thinner to be healthy.”
There were a few people who came to Loni’s defense, however, with one Twitter user writing, “Loni HAS HAD some anti-blackness issues but her relating her experience as a poor black child in a food desert is not one. Think abt why yall couldn’t manage an ounce of sympathy for her discussing lack of access to nutritious food&resorting to diet culture now to counteract that.”
Arguments about Black people residing in “food deserts” has some credence, considering many studies have argued that Black and brown communities have less access to healthy foods or grocery stores that sell healthy food. Thus, Black women or those who benefit from government-assisted living might not be able to eat a certain way because they live in a so-called “food desert.”
However, more recent studies argue that “food desert” isn’t an adequate term for the larger systematic racism Black people face as it pertains to food. According to HuffPost, specialists argue that “Eliminating food inequality requires not just opening new stores, but making sure people have accessible means of transportation to actually get to them. It means culturally sensitive business development and prices people can afford. It might even mean eliminating the term ‘food deserts’ altogether.”
Clearly, the issue is ongoing and Love might want to be apart of the conversation as she attempts to advocate for the community.