Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

The CEO of WeightWatchers apologizes to a body-positive influencer after Oprah Winfrey’s weight-loss medication show.

By Jennifer Mar 24, 2024
Body positivity advocate Katie Sturino, right, received an apology from WW CEO Sima Sistani after she saw the influencer's response to β€œAn Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution."Reutres; Getty Images

A body positivity advocate received an apology from the CEO of WeightWatchers, the weight reduction firm, for the company’s previous involvement in fostering a “toxic” diet culture.

WeightWatchers CEO Sima Sistani addressed influencer Katie Sturino, the creator of Megababe Beauty and author of “Body Talk: How to Embrace Your Body and Start Living Your Best Life,” in an Instagram story video that was shared on Wednesday.

Oprah, Ozempic and Apologies: WeightWatchers' New Formula - WSJ
Oprah, Ozempic and Apologies: WeightWatchers’ New Formula – WSJ

With almost 802,000 Instagram followers, Sturino shared her “unfiltered thoughts” regarding the ABC Monday program “An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution.” Oprah Winfrey, who was on the WW board for over ten years, said in December that she takes an anti-obesity medicine, so she utilized the show to talk about its effects.

Sistani, who has been WW’s CEO since 2022, was in attendance while the show was filmed. The business debuted a new membership plan for customers on GLP-1 prescription medications, such Wegovy and Ozempic, and said last year that it will start selling prescription weight-loss medications.


Nothing about this conversation is perfect, but at least we’re trying to have it in a civil way, because it’s a really complicated conversation β€” the topics of weight loss, drugs, and diet culture.

-KATIE STURINO, IN A ZOOM INTERVIEW WITH NBC NEWS


In her video, Sturino said, “Conversing about WeightWatchers, they had the CEO of WeightWatchers on the show for like 30 seconds last night and she got so close to apologizing on behalf of WeightWatchers.” She came very close to apologizing for all the harmful things we contributed to diet culture and admitting that she had made a mistake by suggesting that it was just a matter of willpower or that one body was worse than the other.

After reading Sturino’s comment, Sistani said she “couldn’t stop thinking about what she posted,” characterizing it as “a really brave discussion about Oprah’s special on ABC.”

Sistani said, “And she noted that I participated and that I almost apologized.” “I want you to know that I’m sorry, Katie.”

Oprah Winfrey Says She Uses a Weight Loss Drug - WSJ
Oprah Winfrey Says She Uses a Weight Loss Drug – WSJ

“Part of that is acknowledging the past where we played any part in the shame that people carry with them, and, so, Katie, thank you for engaging in this discussion so productively,” she said.

She also said, “It is important for me that you hear it because we can only start to hope for advocacy and health equity when we address our internalized bias.” She addressed “every Katie whose out there who hasn’t heard this message.”

Sistani was invited to talk on WW’s history during Winfrey’s show. She said that although the corporation had traditionally concentrated on behaviors, it had not considered the biological factors that contribute to weight reduction in some individuals.

Sistani said during the show, “For all those people who took on the behavior change, some of them walked away without the success.” “And I want to tell those people it’s not your fault.”

Sturino said she was “completely shocked” by the apology in a Zoom interview with NBC News on Thursday, but she also described it as “a really powerful thing.”

“I just feel so grateful that I am in this position, especially because there’s been so much conversation about how body positivity is over and how this is just the Ozempic age and it’s all about being thin,” she said. “I feel so good to be able to engage with someone like WeightWatchers and then bring relief, a slight relief, to so many people together.”

Regarding the current discussions taking place on many platforms about weight loss, Sturino said that “there’s a lot of power in being vulnerable right now on the internet.”

“Nothing about this conversation is perfect, but at least we’re trying to have it in a civil way, because it’s a really complicated conversation β€” the topics of weight loss, drugs, and diet culture,” she said.

In an Instagram video posted on Thursday, Sturino also expressed her feelings in response to Sistani’s apologies.

Does this repair all of the harm that has been done? No. However, it seemed like a genuine victory for our community to me,” Sturino captioned the photo. “I don’t think I ever imagined acknowledgment would come.”

Requests for comment were not immediately answered by a Winfrey or a WW representative.

Oprah is leaving WeightWatchers, sending stock tumbling | CNN Business
Oprah is leaving WeightWatchers, sending stock tumbling | CNN Business

Winfrey, who has spent decades being transparent about her weight reduction struggles, said in February that she would be leaving the WeightWatchers board of directors.

Winfrey broke down in tears during her hour-long show when she said that she “starved” herself for five months on a “liquid diet” before showcasing a wagon full of fat on her talk show in 1988.

While speaking with Gayle King and Charles Barkley on CNN’s “King Charles,” the mogul went into more detail on why she decided to tackle a program on prescription medicines for weight loss.

It’s wonderful if you think having a larger physique is fantastic and you don’t want to change it since you’re still fine. Winfrey said, “I truly admire people who genuinely believe that.” “Whatever suits you.” I decided to do [the special] in part because I want people to be able to make decisions for their own health and wellbeing.

By Jennifer

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