Get Ozempic! Get Ozempic! Let's all get Ozempic!

This week's big news in the weight loss world: Oprah Winfrey is leaving WeightWatchers. The talk show host, who has been the public face of the company for almost a decade, will step down from the company's board of directors and donate all of his shares to charity “to eliminate any potential conflicts of interest related to taking weight loss drugs.”

No prizes for guessing which weight loss pill she's talking about. Almost every celebrity and wealthy woman (and quite a few men, including Elon Musk) appears to be injecting the GLP-1 drug. These drugs, most famously the diabetes drug Ozempic, prevent hunger and result in dramatic weight loss. It is considered a way to lose weight without much effort.

Winfrey's departure from WeightWatchers signals a broader cultural shift, not just a professional transition. The old diet industry is officially over. As GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic explode in popularity, the idea of ​​relying on willpower to lose weight is becoming obsolete. So too has society's brief flirtation with body positivity, with dangerously thin people back in fashion.

By the way, WeightWatchers knows all of this very well. There's a reason the company has been around for his 60 years. We have constantly repositioned our company to reflect changing attitudes towards health and beauty. For example, in 2018, at the height of the wellness boom, the company changed its name to WW and updated its mission to “Wellness that Works.” Now I'm moving away from wellness and leaning heavily into drugs, drugs, drugs. I don't see why Winfrey's use of weight loss drugs would be considered a “conflict of interest” considering WeightWatchers is all about his GLP-1 drug. Last year, the brand announced with great fanfare that it had become a “digital health company” after acquiring a digital health company that allows its members to receive prescriptions for weight loss drugs.

GLP-1 drugs are booming and will become even more popular in the future. But while these habits may be widespread among celebrities, not everyone is shouting about their habits from the rooftops. There is some reservations about taking drugs because it is seen as “cheating” in a sense. In fact, Winfrey previously said she was initially wary of taking weight loss drugs because it felt like an “easy way out.”

Of course, it's stupid to talk about “cheating” when it comes to weight loss. We all have different brains and bodies. Some people are naturally easier to lose weight than others. They have cheat codes embedded in her DNA. But this kind of language, and the critical response to Winfrey's use of GLP-1, shows how deeply weight is tied to morality in society. It reveals the fact that we associate thinness with virtue. The fact that losing weight can now be easily achieved by taking medication has the potential to greatly disrupt this relationship.

“[This is a technology that will reorder society,” Paul Ford wrote in Wired last year in a piece about how Mounjaro (a similar drug to Ozempic) had changed his life. “I have been judged as greedy and weak since I was 10 years old – and now the sin is washed away. Baptism by injection.”

I’m not cheerleading GLP-1 drugs here, I should note. Far from it. They may be killing off one form of diet culture, but as the obsession with Winfrey’s recent weight loss shows, they’re simply ushering in another. Women are still very much judged by how much space they take up – technology is advancing a lot faster than our attitudes.

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