Slimming World Magazine...Is it just me?
Ok, first thing I should say is that I buy the SW magazine every month and very much enjoy it - I like the recipes and I'm blown away by what some of the people featured in the success stories have achieved. It is cheering and inspiring to see the 'after' photos of them looking healthy and happy and they have my utmost respect for achieving their goals. What I am about to say is in no way aimed at them - it is more about the way in which their stories are 'packaged' by the magazine. I should also say that this applies to other 'diet' magazines as well, not just SW.
It is just that I have started to feel a little bit uncomfortable with the very predictable 'narrative' of the success stories - in particular with the emphasis on how totally miserable the people featured were when they were 'fat'. How they never wore nice clothes, or did things, or achieved their dreams, because of their weight. Now obviously if you are severely overweight there are all sorts of tangible health, emotional, and practical implications that might have a negative impact on how you feel - I'm not questioning that. But the narrative in these stories seems to be the same, whether the person started out at 20stone or 12stone, or anywhere in between. It always seems to be 'I was miserable/underachieving/lacking confidence, because I was fat, then I found SW (or WW, or RC) and lost weight and now I am happy, and confident, and successful etc etc.
I have a couple of problems with this:
1. It implies that if you are overweight (whatever overweight is for you) you can't be/have no right to be happy, confident or doing well. Now, I admit, I am overweight and I do feel crappy about it, and beat myself because of it, but I sometimes wonder if this is partly because I am constantly being told that I should feel this way (at least until I manage to lose some weight).
2. It implies that everything in your life will be fine if you just lose weight - that weight-loss is a panacea to everything that might be wrong in your life. Which of course it isn't, because life is not like that.
There are some really uplifting and empowering articles in other parts of the magazine, and I sometimes think that just once it might be nice is a success story said something along the lines of 'You know what, I was alright. Lots of things in my life were going really well and I was happy in myself, but I realised that losing some weight would improve my health and fitness, so I joined SW to do something positive for me. Not because I was miserable, but because losing weight would be a positive thing in an of itself.'
Am I the only person who thinks like this? I'd be really interested to hear others' thoughts.
Oh Violet - it could be me writing that piece, except you have put it far better than I would have done!
I have been on a number of occasions with a consultant friend to the SW Woman of the Year awards in Birmingham. They show a film of each contestant before announcing the winner. And boy, is it depressing! I wonder if they would ever choose a finalist for the award if they were happy and outgoing before they lost weight??
I see your point, although I don't know any, I'm sure there are many happy, healthy overweight people. But then, if they're happy when they're overweight, why would they bother to go to all the effort of losing weight, lol!
I know I'm an extreme version of 'overweight' but using myself as an example, I am really happy with certain areas of my life, I have a lovely husband, kids, family, etc, and I still do things, days out, etc, it doesn't really stop me doing that much, but being fat does make me miserable. My confidence is at rock bottom, I won't apply for certain jobs and won't enter into some situations, like nights out. My health is suffering, my anxiety is worse than ever, I'm unfit, breathless doing 'normal' things, and I know that as I lose weight and my looks and health improve, so will my general well-being and happiness.
I don't think it's about not being 'allowed' to be happy when you're overweight either, I just think things change as you lose weight and as you build confidence you often make changes in your life that make you happier. So, I think if I ever got to goal and did a magazine story (which I wouldn't, because even though I'm very gobby online, I'm very shy in real life) I would be exactly the same and I think most people who have been overweight would to some extent too. x
Last edited by Hippopotamum : 28th March, 2014 at 05:12 PM
Violet, I have often thought the same! I do remember reading one or two "life-stories" in the mag where people seemed to be having a good time despite the fact they were overweight, but they are few and far between!
The other thing that really irritates me about them is that they are ALL written in the same "voice". I understand that some editing needs to be done, but they do end up all sounding very much the same.
(I do find the weight loss stories inspiring, but I wish we got some sense of the individual behind them!)
- Rep Power
Start Date: 24/03/2014
I'd really like to see more examples of people who've took longer to get to target! I've recently rejoined and not got much left to lose but I think I'd seek more inspiration from people who've nearly given up/had gains etc and still got there than those who haven't had a single gain and got to target in 6 months x
I know what you mean, I felt the same when I first joined and usually didnt get much from the 'inspirational' stories because well I was still big and fat and I felt like I couldnt relate, it all seemed so false and forced and feeding this you have to be thin to be happy. I was fat and happy, beautiful kids, roof over my head, amazing friends and family.
However, fast forward a year and losing over 6 stone and I am realising I wasn't happy, I was just existing. Of course I love my kids etc but I didnt particularly love myself. Now I have oodles more confidence, I love to go out- even just to toddler social groups, Im part of the social team in our group, Im even considering getting back to my theatre group. I feel much better taking the kids out because I don't feel like I'm being stared at, I can get around the soft play with them without struggling or getting stuck!
As for everything magically getting better with weight loss Im kinda on the band wagon because I feel much more confident in being able to make the right decisions in my life for my family. I feel more able to deal with anything negative and I don't get stressed out or worried as easily. Don't get me wrong losing weight has been a bit of a bone of contention with some people in my life but I think if they can't support me in something Im doing for myself that only has positive outcomes for my health, happiness and kids well then maybe they aren't worth thinking about either.
I always think they make the people look the same! That feathery, white dress makes an appearance every other edition I'm sure ;-)
I find that the majority of stories revolve around baby weight. It makes me stop reading.
Now that is something I agree with. SW say `it doesn`t matter if you go straight up the motorway or take the scenic route` but you never see a story with the scenic route do you.
Originally Posted by hollydollystar
Most of us go up and down like yoyo`s and take a long time.
I think what we have to remember is that the magazine is an advert for Slimming World. They are only going to put stuff in it if they believe it will get them more customers. A publication produced by a particular organisation is always going to have its own agenda.
It would be good if they had a diary following someone on their weightless 'journey'. This would allow them to highlight their ups and downs.
I only have a couple of stones to lose so losing weight will be good for my health and good for my vanity but will make very little difference to my day to day life, so I am not sure I am qualified to comment on how it affects confidence levels. However for much of my life until I was in my forties I was in a healthy BMI and I lacked confidence so I'm not convinced there is a connection between weight and confidence/happiness.
All makeover articles use before pictures that are unflattering and slouchy, and after pictures that show the person posing in a flattering way. Often I think that if the before picture was taken in the same position/manner as the after picture the improvement would be minimal. At least there is something to see when someone loses weight.
Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts - its really interesting to read other people's take on this.
I wasn't really trying to suggest that the 'narrative' was inaccurate. I'm sure that in many, many cases losing weight, whether that is 1 stone or 10 stone, boosts confidence and have a positive effect. I just think the constant emphasis on how miserable ALL the people featured were 'before' sends out a bad message. For those who are just starting out, parts of the magazine are saying 'love yourself now' in order to improve yourself, and other parts (the success stories) seem to be saying 'you should feel crappy now, but we can fix it'. This seem to be two different messages to me.
This is not surprising - I completely agree that the magazine is effectively one big marketing tool, but there seems to me to be a real tension between the positive uplifting messages in some articles and the underlying message which is edited into the success stories.
If someone's weight-loss has allowed them to do things they didn't think they ever could - like a recent story where dropping several stone allowed a lady to conceive naturally - then shout it from the rooftops!!! But don't tell a 12 stone teen or 20-something that their weight, and the loss of it, is the answer to everything.
I completely agree with the comments about the same 'voice' and also about the 'journey'. They sometimes feature people who, if you look at their stats, have taken a relatively long time to get to goal, but the narrative doesn't reflect those ups and downs.
I have often thought this, there isn't very much variety in the stories. I did read one a few months back though, the lady featured had her story written in the 'timeline' way they sometimes do .. i.e .. january 2003, x st xweight.. anyways, it had a bit about her wedding day, and she was fairly heavy at the time. And she said something along the lines of 'despite my weight, i felt amazing in my dress and had a wonderful day' ... and i thought, GOOD ON YOU! .. So often it's all ' i felt hideous on my wedding day and it ruined it for me!' .... don't get me wrong, I really wish we'd gotten wed when i was at target, but you know what? I have a beautiful family and yes on my wedding day i wore a size 16 dress and i don't love every single one of my photos, but i still had an amazing day and when i think about my day, the first reaction is a little butterfly in my tummy that reminds me of how full of love it was and what an incredible day. Not a sinking, 'i was so fat!' feeling.
Day after day, i have to remind myself that i am so much more than the fat around my tummy, or my double chin. YES i will be happier when i am slim, because i will have my confidence and feel pretty. BUT in the meantime, i'm a size 16-18, successful in my career, with lovely friends, a wonderful husband and a beautiful child, a hard worker in my studies and i achieve alot.
Overall i really enjoy the magazines, but like you, this grates on me a little bit!
It was one of the things that put me off filling on the forms to apply for the magazines etc Obviously there were things I wasn't happy with when I was a lot bigger but I did have a life and I did go out and do things even though there are things I do now that were a lot harder before etc and there is a lot of improvement now but I didn't feel my story was enough of an advert!
People at group often ask if I'm gonna apply for the magazine and this is why I wouldn't, i don't really have a sob story from when I was fat! Yes I was unhappy and had confidence issues but at the end of the day I had Chris who loved me when I was that size anyway, and a family and friends and work life I didn't sit and cry every night cos I was fat, so have I got a big enough story to apply? I think not lol
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