Offering online programs that target men and women separately, Weight Watchers communicates, represents, and manipulates gender in its program marketing and materials. In this article, I demonstrate how Weight Watchers engages aspects of hegemonic masculinity as they endeavor to construct “masculine” versus “feminine” dieting through contrasting depictions of food, the body, and technology use. By analyzing the difference in the weight loss experiences that Weight Watchers Online promises, I argue that limited types of self are made available to women and men. Weight Watchers portrays female dieters on a difficult but actualizing and empowering journey toward a new and better self. Conversely, Weight Watchers depicts male clients losing weight easily, even effortlessly, but retaining a stable and immutable masculine selfhood throughout the process. This constraint upon self-making exposes how patriarchy subordinates even the men assumed to profit the most from its power, as the male weight loss promise withholds transformative potentials.
“Lose Like a Man”: Gender and the Constraints of Self-Making in Weight Watchers Online
Emily Contois is a PhD candidate in American Studies at Brown University, where her research explores food, health, the body, and identity in the everyday American experience and popular culture. She holds an MPH focused in Public Health Nutrition from UC Berkeley and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Graduate Journal of Food Studies and a food writer at Zester Daily and the Providence Journal. She blogs at emilycontois.com and tweets @emilycontois.
Emily Contois; “Lose Like a Man”: Gender and the Constraints of Self-Making in Weight Watchers Online. Gastronomica 1 February 2017; 17 (1): 33–43. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2017.17.1.33
Download citation file: