Sara Rue and Jennifer Hudson lose weight and gain currency

Catching up on Melissa Silverstein’s blog Women and Hollywood always is a treat. Often, Melissa causes me to see something in a different way, as in The Politics of Actresses and Weight Loss Ads.

The article was the result of two full-figured actresses who lost a lot of weight and now are spokespeople for weight loss campaigns: Jennifer Hudson for Weight Watchers and Sara Rue for Jenny Craig.

Most women are weight-conscious — with good reason. A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that thin women have higher incomes than average-weight women, whereas the opposite is true of men, who earn more if they are overweight.

In Hollywood, the pressure to be thin is even more intense, so the fact that two not-thin women lost weight is not surprising. But Rue and Hudson both became famous by fully embracing their full figures, Rue in Popular and Less Than Perfect and Hudson on American Idol and in Dreamgirls.

In Rue’s case, she grew tired of being called “plus-sized.” In 2006, she told USA Today, “It’s confusing to me. In real life, I’m normal. In fact, I’m less than normal. I’m smaller than a 12 … the bottom line is I’m healthy, and this is the way I want to be.” But she couldn’t get work, so she dropped weight and, sure enough, the roles followed — as did the Jenny Craig gig. She’s lost at least 50 pounds since she joined Jenny and is a very small “size 6.”

Hudson, who just finished playing Winnie Mandela in the film Winnie, is part of the Weight Watchers “Lose for Good” campaign, which raises money for hunger. The more weight you lose, the more money you raise for people who can’t afford food. She’s gone from a size 16 to a 6 and told Reuters that she “can’t wait to perform again – with my new body.” Yuck. Silverstein says it well: “Bad message. Remember your former body (which you never know when will return) won you an Oscar.”

Both Rue and Hudson are gorgeous — and were before they lost weight. But to me, they lost several degrees of hotness with the pounds. Don’t get me wrong — both women are strong advocates for LGBT equality and I love them for it. But I hope they realize that the reason so many people admire them is because of who they are, not what they weigh.

Do you like the new, thin Sara Rue and Jennifer Hudson? Does being paid for promoting weight loss detract from their celebration of thinness? Are weight loss ads detrimental to a healthy body image?