First, Jessica Simpson said her decision not to be anorexic has been great for branding; now, she’s planning to cash in on her post-baby weight loss with Weight Watchers. The 31-year-old actress is negotiating a $4 million deal to be Weight Watchers’ next celebrity spokesperson. It’s sad that Simpson seems to view her body and health as nothing more than a PR pawn, but what’s more disturbing to me is the fact that America has developed a bizarre bipolar approach to pregnancy. When it comes to our weight and bodies, all signs indicate that we don’t know what to expect when we’re expecting.
US Weekly says Simpson’s pregnancy was a positive thing for her talks with Weight Watchers. Now, instead of just losing the pounds she’s gained in recent years, she’ll have baby weight to lose:
Simpson — engaged to ex-NFL star Eric Johnson — had initially intended to sign with the company to lose weight she had gained over the past few years.
“But then she got pregnant,” says the source. “So this was the perfect compromise.”
Under the contract, Simpson would have one year to use the point-counting program to “lose a signficant amount of weight,” says the insider.
She’s then show off her results in ads for the company — much like current spokeswoman Jennifer Hudson.
Despite the deal, Simpson isn’t letting her weight gain get her down. “I’m bigger than I’ve ever been,” she recently told Us. “But I want to show off my bump!”
The deal would also put her (and Weight Watchers) in direct competition with Jenny Craig’s new spokesperson, Mariah Carey, who’s also made lemonade out of losing her extra pregnancy weight. Which raises the question: Since when did we start equating pregnancy with obesity?
Gaining weight during pregnancy isn’t bad. And keeping some of the extra pounds in the first year or two may not feel amazing, but especially for women who breast feed, it’s a good thing: They need the extra calories to sustain themselves and feed their growing babies.
But neither Carey or Simpson will be the first Hollywood mom to put her weight loss in the spotlight: Nearly every prominent new Mom is photographed prancing around L.A. (or a Victoria’s Secret Runway) just weeks after giving birth, looking as good as she did pre-pregnancy, or better. But Jessica and Mariah aren’t getting paid to make weight for lingerie ads, which most women know by now isn’t a model for healthy living. They’re getting paid millions of dollars by top weight loss companies to model a transition from unhealthy and overweight to healthy and a normal weight.
Which says to me that we don’t just like to gawk at hot models whose bodies seem immune to the effects of pregnancy; we’ve begun to equate pregnancy to being unhealthy, and putting on baby weight with being obese.
To some, this leads to scary behaviors like “mommyrexia”—a refusal to gain weight during pregnancy that endangers the health of both mother and child. To others, this seems utterly ridiculous (or completely untenable). Which results in a totally bipolar approach to pregnancy. Either:
a) we’re supposed to stay thin while pregnant and/or shed the extra weight as soon as we’ve popped the placenta, or
b) we’re supposed to just “let go,” become overweight, and not care about our out-of-shape bodies because we have something entirely more important to consume us now: Being a mom.
In reality, neither of these options is very healthy. And paying Jessica Simpson or Mariah Carey to lose their baby weight post-haste is far from scouting out healthy role models; it’s an irresponsible message to send customers. Tabloids have always and probably will always send terrible messages about women’s bodies, but companies like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, whose programs proudly announce a more healthy, balanced approach to weight loss than crash diets made popular in Hollywood, should be ashamed to do the same.
Photo: US Weekly