When I first caught a glimpse of the new commercial featuring Janet Jackson as the latest spokesperson for Nutrisystem, I must admit that I did a double take – thinking I might be watching “Saturday Night Live” instead of the morning news. Was this the same musical celebrity who has been just as famous for going up and down the scale as she is for her musical hits of the 80s and 90s? I stopped my DVR, rewound and watched the advertisement again.

You can check out the add for yourself here:

Let’s ignore the fact that it sounds like someone should have given Ms. Jackson some coffee so she would have sounded awake during the ad and focus on the product for a second. Personally, I have always found Nutrisystem commercials and print ads somewhat comical. Mainly because almost every single one contains the legal line of “”Results not typical. Individuals are remunerated.” Google ‘remunerated’ and you’ll the definition is: “to pay an equivalent for <their services were generously remunerated>”

When payment is involved, one has to wonder about the validity of a weight loss program – or, at the very least, the motivation behind the weight loss. And this is as true for celebrity endorsers as it is for so-called success stories featuring everyday people. I’m not knocking Nutrisystem or Janet Jackson specifically. But you have to question the validity of any diet program that uses a celebrity who’s somewhat notorious for yo-yo dieting (and, rumor has it, allegedly having surgeries to get her abs back into shape). Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty) even wrote a book with details about a recent weight loss (with an epilogue written by her personal nutritionist, David Allen).

To read Ms. Jackson’s interview about her dieting methods previous to Nutrisystem: Click Here

Yet now, less than a year after releasing her book, Ms. Jackson is promoting a totally different method of weight loss? This just goes to show you that these so called ‘testimonials’ might not be all they’re cracked up to be. After all, losing weight when you can employ personal nutritionists, chefs and trainers is a whole lot different than receiving a supply of seemingly freeze-dried diet food that’s delivered at monthly intervals in a cardboard box.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking Ms. Jackson for being a yo-yo dieter or for trying all sorts of different diets. This makes her “my people” and makes me yearn to do a spin class with her (followed by an immediate jaunt to the nearest frozen yogurt place). I get it. Been there. Done that. And, in some cases, still doing it. I adore Ms. Jackson and feel for her in regard to her being a member of the “Darn, it’s hard to lose weight club.” But I’d feel better taking advice from her if she had kept the weight off for a number of years and was truly walking her talk.

Like Kirstie Alley (promoting her own Organic Liaison diet) and now even Mariah Carey (who, frankly, looks ridonkulous in her barely clad ads for Jenny Craig), I question Ms. Jackson’s sincerity in regard to endorsement vs. spokesperson-for-profits.

It’s reeks of taking advantage of one’s own community in order to make a buck. I don’t know Ms. Jackson personally. So I am trying not to judge her. But as someone who has battled the bulge for years and years (and still must stay very wary of it) and as someone who cares for the health of people with the same challenge, in this particular case, I question her authenticity.

Why the concern? Because these types of celebrity endorsements can lead to heartache for dieters, who believe the hype, try the diet and then wonder why it’s not working for them the same way it’s ‘working’ for a particular celebrity. Well, for starters, us regular folk don’t have a private chef, private trainer or an agent that’s taking a certain percentage of the enormous profits that celebrities are usually paid for lending a famous name to a product. That’s a totally different set of circumstances entirely. So no – it’s not the same as when you and I go on said diet plan.

I suppose this all boils down to the old adage of “Buyer beware.”

We live in a marketing driven society. And the diet industry is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year one. That means profits, folks. Profits sometimes made at the expense of people like us – the dieter who yearns to lose weight and feel great once and for all.

So, really, Ms. Jackson, what have you done for me – and the dieting community – lately?

How do you feel about Janet Jackson trumpeting Nutrisystem? Or Mariah Carey appearing half naked for Jenny Craig? Are you motivated? Amused? Left feeling ripped off? I’d love to hear what you think. So please, add to my pleasure principle and comment away…

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6 Responses to “What have you done for me lately?”

  1. Teresa says:

    I also thought “what the hell?” when I saw this ad. Perhaps she is using the NutriSystem food to maintain her weight but she does not look like she needs to lose any weight in the ad. Seems somewhat less than inspirational to me. Now, I do know that Marie Osmond did lose weight on NutriSystem – it was a combo of Dancing With The Stars and NutriSystem but she really does still use their maintenance program. Here’s my issue with all of these celebrity endorsements of diet programs – they don’t tell the whole truth. All of those huge transformations involved a diet AND a physical fitness program of some sort. It also leaves out the other key issue in keeping the weight off: counseling. Overeating is a symptom of something beneath the surface. It may be simply bad eating habits or it can be pain and anger that have never been dealt with or it could be an addiction. We have to stop “selling” weight loss and look at it as a multi-layered problem that needs to be addressed on all fronts. Your website and blog recognizes this. I wish the various weight loss programs would embrace this honesty and really seek to help people…Yes, I am a Pollyanna. Not apologizing for that anymore! Carry on your most excellent work, my friend.

  2. Gregg says:

    You have such a way with words, Teresa! You really do. Love your thoughts. Love your post. Love your wisdom. Thank you!

  3. Nunya says:

    How dare you imply that all fat people are gluttons! I am a medical professional and I can assure that is NOT always the case.
    Did you know that there are people that have weight problems, eat next to nothing, and STILL gain weight? Yes it does happen. So my professional and personal advice to you is to do your research and KNOW your facts before you open your mouth or use your keyboard to deliver even more judgement on people that could use a little more compassion and a lot less attitude.

  4. Gregg says:

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment, Nunya — even though it’s clear you haven’t actually read any of my posts. “All fat people are gluttons” is actually your terminology and a message that’s never been communicated on this site. Also, as a “medical professional,” you should check your research in regard to what the amount of food eaten has to do with weight gain and obesity. Even people with thyroid issues will lose weight when eating healthier and eating less.

  5. Eve says:

    I’ve been thinking about this since you posted it. Personally, I don’t follow Janet Jackson’s career, so I didn’t know she was a yo-yo dieter. Nor was I aware she wrote a book. But, when I saw her on the commercial (annoying whispering affectation aside), I admit to being impressed, in the same way I was impressed with the famous-ish people who went on Celebrity Fit Club on VH1, and in the same way I’m impressed with the non-famous people who go on The Biggest Loser. What appeals to me about the celebrity endorser of a weight loss program is their humility and bravery. Of course they get paid, I know that! But money won’t motivate when you’re ashamed of how you look. And that is where I think celebrities and the ordinary folks who go on reality shows can lead those of us who are stuck in that place of shame. If someone whose job it is to look good (and ‘good’ as defined by societal standards, so, ‘thin’) can admit that he/she struggles with weight, then maybe I, who am not in the public eye, can, too. Now, am I going to run out and join any particular program simply because some celebrity is endorsing it? No. But then, I wouldn’t buy anything because some celebrity is endorsing it. For me, it’s about facing facts honestly. Instead of being embarrassed by all the comedians and tabloids making fun of her weight, Kirstie Alley was on tv shaking it off, hopefully inspiring some couch potatoes to dance around their living rooms. I don’t know much about Janet, but I’m proud of her going on tv and telling people she was fat and now she’s not. No matter how she did it, the point I take away is that she did it, so maybe I can, too.

  6. Gregg says:

    I love your perspective, Eve — and I really appreciate you sharing it. Really good food for thought (you’ll excuse the pun). You are certainly right. Ms. Jackson could be promoting a makeup line or a voice enhancer (the chick really DOES need to speak up), but she’s copping to the fact that she loves food as much as we do. Again, great light shed on this subject. It’s all about looking at life’s situations from different angles, right? Just please don’t look at me from behind! LOL! (Thank you again! Great commentary!)

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