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Naomi Mdudu Headshot

The Career Of Dieting

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Try Googling about the current famine in Somalia and you'll see 11.9 million results but try typing 'celebrity diets' and you'll get 51 million results. Unsurprising, no, but interesting nonetheless? As we continue to be more fascinated by the lives - and waist dimensions - of our favourite stars, the current trend amongst celebrities of using their weight loss as a step up the stardom ladder is quickly becoming as commonplace as Lindsay Lohan's run ins with the law, and weight loss companies are more than happy to jump on the ride.

With the rise of reality shows and celebs embracing social networking like Facebook and Twitter, we all think we know them intimately and as result, have followed their on going struggles with weight, which is why diet companies are increasingly incorporating celebs into their marketing plans. Take Jennifer Hudson for example. We all watched her battle against the prejudices about her weight and image on American Idol and later stand as the 'curvy' woman's champion after outshining her slimmer 'Dream Girls' co-star Beyoncé and going on to win the Best Supporting Actress gong at the Oscars. Fast forward to now and Hudson is a svelte size 6 having lost over 80lbs and we all feel like we've walked her journey with her.

The same is true for Kim Kardashian, whose career has catapulted over the last few years largely thanks to her hit family reality show 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' but also due to her considerable weight loss to match - hello Quick Trim and Shape Up endorsements and the multi-million dollar contacts that came with them. Call me cynical but has her celebrity status not increased with every inch lost? After all, you'll be forgiven for forgetting the last time that the future Mrs Humphries wasn't on the cover of People magazine sharing her latest weight loss tips with the signature bikini shoot to accompany. Hudson put it perfectly, although rather diplomatically, when she explained that her career options have definitely opened up since her dramatic weight loss. "I didn't even realise I was being discriminated against and missed out on things until I crossed over to the other side," she told US magazine Live Smart. "Now, on the other side, they treat you differently, the opportunities are different..."

Despite the negative representations conveyed by such an obvious link between their respective weight losses and career highs, the Weight Watchers-Jennifer Hudson partnership has largely been a good one. Her recent commercials for the company (who she currently serves as spokesperson for) emphasise her feeling better and her 'lov[ing] myself that much more" rather than bashing her former curvy self.

But doesn't this put even more pressure on celebrities to look slim, especially when their endorsements and subsequent deals hinged on their increased profile, are on the line? Well seemingly so. That point was made ever so clear in a recent episode of 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' (I'm a secret fan, can you tell?) where momager Kris Jenner criticised Khloe for jeopardizing their Quick Trim endorsement by talking to the media "about how many cookies you're easting in between meals". To which she responded: "To tell me I'm ruining a whole brand because of my weight gain makes me feel like shit." But this isn't the only time that has happened. Cast your mind back to Natalie Cassidy's hard time after putting the weight back on after showing off her short-lived size 8 frame. And till today, Kristie Alley speaks of her regret about stripping down to her bikini on Oprah to show off her new body, only to put the weight (plus more) on immediately after, not to mention being dropped by the weight loss company she served as spokesperson for.

So what do we learn from this? By boosting these weight loss companies' profit margins by running to our local drug store and loading up on their projects in the hope of looking like a Kardashian, are we ultimately setting these celebrities up for a fall? As the Kardashian brood show, one successful fitness or weight loss endorsement leads to a string of others making a slim waist line an ever-growing financial necessity in Hollywood.