Why Weight Watchers are wrong about sex

Why Weight Watchers are wrong about sex

A publicity campaign went horribly wrong for diet company Weight Watchers this week. Wanting to encourage positive body image in the bedroom, Weight Watchers sent female journalists a “mood light bulb” that was described as a “PG sex toy”.

Without any other details, this attempt to tease interest in research about women being unhappy with their own bodies seemed only to arouse a flurry of online outrage. Confusion and anger was stirred by the light bulb possibly suggesting that larger or heavier women did not enjoy sex. Or were embarrassed of their bodies. Or a combination of those things.

The backlash definitely caught the attention of Weight Watchers because it chose to “not actively promote the campaign further”. Whoa. Someone important at Weight Watchers must be furious because the campaign itself seemed to want to promote some positive things. Weight Watchers intended to share how some of its members had been “empowered to feel more confident”, due to “improvements in their health and wellbeing.” If that sort of uplifting and self-help message had got out, who would have been arguing with it?

But Weight Watchers didn’t even get to advertise that, thanks to their disastrous shot at combining sex, size and self-esteem – in a light bulb.

Here’s the actual problem

What really went wrong with the “light bulb” campaign, though? Yes, I’m a bloke and I know I might be missing something critical here but I don’t really understand why some journalists got all steamed up. The internet slushes with a never-ending cesspool of offensive and controversial equations involving people’s bodies and sexual preferences. What was so obscene about the Weight Watcher “light bulb”? Particularly when that well-known weight loss company was never going to follow it up with some sickly message about skinny women being the only ones able to enjoy sex. That just would never be their message, despite what you think the light bulb represents.

What I think Weight Watchers got wrong is the same thing so many of us get wrong about sex and our bodies. We don’t seem to register what our bodies are all about. Do you or I even know? I do know that the answer seems to be “sex” or “whatever makes me happy or feel good” … but how do we know that as a fact? What about people who, for whatever reason, can’t enjoy the things they want to enjoy? Does that mean they are wasting their bodies?

We get all worked up about what our bodies can do – and with who they can do those things with. But can’t you see? Can’t I see? As we worry so much about the sex we might be able to have – or should be our “right” to have – we take our eyes off the bigger deal with our bodies.

“Glorify God in your body” is a remarkable summary statement about what bodies are about. And you thought Weight Watchers sending out light bulbs as a moody sex toy was confronting or controversial. How about the idea that our bodies are places where God – yes, God – should be praised and honoured and celebrated?

What you can do with your body

The person who dared to write those words did so in the 1st Century. But before you and I accuse them of being totally out of touch with the sexed-up times we live in, here’s something we should know. He called people to “glorify God in your body” due to their attitude to sex and personal expression. Yes, people 2000 years ago were also obsessed with having sex and doing it their way.

Without denying anyone the freedom to do whatever they want, this 1st Century writer lovingly encouraged people to treat their bodies not as temples to selfishness. “’Everything is permissible for me’ but not everything is helpful,” is a neat way that he had of explaining the lifestyle choices he promoted. So instead of my body being some free-wheeling sex show that may or may not experience what I want it to, he described any human body as having the incredible potential of being a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit AS WELL AS a part of the body of believers in Jesus.

Pause and dwell on that.

You and I can still read more about this mindblowing view of our bodies and their purpose, in the sixth chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians, found in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul wrote quite a bit on this subject and, unlike Weight Watchers’ sex toy light bulb, it doesn’t run the risk of limiting our bodies simply to sex or size. There’s something far greater and more meaningful we can do with our bodies. With the lights on or off.

Ben McEachen



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