“I’ve just had a lot of pressure on me to lose my baby weight,” said Jessica Simpson, the very first guest on Katie Couric’s new daytime talk show “Katie.”
The episode about Jessica’s post-baby weight loss was actually more tasteful than I expected — she didn’t do a huge “body reveal moment” or pull out an old pair of huge-ass pants. But at the same time, Jessica shilled, shilled, shilled and it kinda felt like an hour-long commercial for Weight Watchers.
I appreciated that Katie Couric was forthright about Jessica’s “lucrative contract” with Weight Watchers; she’s getting many, many millions of dollars to lose her baby weight. But interestingly, Jess didn’t straight-up plug Weight Watchers from the get-go. Instead, she talked about how she has been exercising, too: she’s been walking off the weight by walking 14,000 steps (seven miles) every day while wearing a pedometer. Jess also said she replaced stress-eating with walking on her treadmill.
And Jessica was pretty positive about how losing weight and being healthy are not about numbers on a scale. In fact, Jess wouldn’t share how much weight she’s lost: “I really didn’t want it to be about my weight, I really wanted it to be the spirit of Weight Watchers” (She would say she lost more than 40 lb.s.)
Her Weight Watchers coach joined her onstage (the same coach, apparently, that both Katie Couric and Jennifer Hudson have used) for more plugging over the program. Jess talked in depth about she goes to Weight Watchers meetings and how she’s cut out snacking and counting points. (“No more ‘slutty brownies,’ for you, missy!” said Katie.) To be clear, I’m not knocking Jessica Simpson for losing baby weight. She sounds like she’s doing it healthfully and happily and I do think she seems like a strong woman; you’d have to be to put up with all the fat-shaming she has gone through. It is genuinely inspiring that Jess is exercising, eating more healthfully (i.e. no more “slutty brownies”) and dropping small-child-sized amounts of weight.
But I couldn’t help but feel a convoluted sort of sadness about her predictament. She repeatedly said throughout the show that she had “a lot of pressure” on her to lose the baby weight. ”Katie” showed a preview clip from Jessica’s Weight Watchers commercial in which she repeats that line and she said it a couple of other times throughout the show. Jessica is making all this money off of losing weight, but by doing so she is furthering the very culture policing women’s bodies that has been fat-shaming her way back even before her “mom jeans” fiasco. And if we connect the dots together, we see the very same company that has paid Jessica a lucrative contract profits off that body policing.
Body image pressure is no doubt a fact of Jessica Simpson’s life as both a woman and a celebrity. She is working hard to lose weight and I hope she ends up happy. But I also hope we lived in a world where, if she didn’t, she would still be happy with herself and her body and her career wouldn’t suffer. Is that too much to ask?