So, I have waited just a little while before weighing in on The Biggest Loser controversy. (See what I did there? I almost reworded that. Then I decided, “What the hell. Let’s throw bad puns to the wall and see what pretty colors it makes!”)
If you are not a Biggest Loser fan and somehow missed the February 4th storm, here is a brief synopsis. 24 year old Rachel Frederickson became the 15th Biggest Loser winner weighing in at 105 pounds. Her starting weight of 260 meant that Rachel had lost 155 pounds, 60% of her total body weight, in about 8 months.
Twitterverse exploded. Blogs rang out. Facebook posts abounded. I think petitions were circulated, a posse was rounded up, and an inquisition was launched to investigate whether or not Dolvett had let her eat in the last 6 weeks.
Seriously, the reaction, including that of the show’s participants, was intense.
She was labeled as astonishingly frail, lost too much weight, unhealthy, too skinny, and had an eating disorder. This, said The They, was what has always been wrong with show. This corruptible and damned piece of reality television. Rachel was ushered in as the Queen Madame of all that was wrong with young girls, body image, healthy living, life balance, and, I think, the crash of the housing market was eventually tied to her as well.
The onslaught was intense. The battery of insults, accusations, and finger wagging coming from The They behind the keyboards was such that I felt the residual heat. My first reaction – which I tend to trust yet investigate – was.
Damn, some folks who don’t know anything sure are saying it with big mouths.
Understand, I am a huge critic of pop culture, media influence, and have expressed general disgust over the handling of what some folks would call “entertainment.” Hell, I have banned The Little Mermaid from my house. There are quite a few pieces of TV production that I would label as dangerous, irresponsible, and down right trash. The Biggest Loser isn’t one of them.
Do I recognize that is only my opinion? It’s a blog, of course I do.
Do I recognize that some folks may have a disposition, challenge, or other personal hurdle that makes a show like The Biggest Loser a trigger point? Of course I do, I have the same kind of shows. For instance, Honey Boo Boo makes me want to slap people and The Bachelor(ette) makes me want to punch them in the throat. I am the momma of four daughters. I think Honey Boo Boo is an abused child and I hate watching girls go to any length to get a freaking flower. Seriously, you would date a guy that you knew was dating 20 other girls? No, you wouldn’t. But I digress.
But, The Biggest Loser has just wrapped up its 15th season. 300 participants have appeared on the show in the past 10 years. Some of the past winners have had starting BMI’s in the 60s. Yes, BMI, 60s. The show does not promote surgeries, supplements, fat burners, or the like. In fact, we saw what happened earlier in the season when Jillian committed what was called “an unprecedented violation.” She gave them caffeine pills. Even that is not allowed.
Now I do wish there were some aspects of the show that were different – most notably the grotesque product placement. I wish they were able to make their marketing budget by promoting local produce, farmers markets, and the like. But hey, it is a business. I am sure the folks who participate in sponsorships and product sales to supplement their fitness businesses understand that.
Outside of the show format itself, what Rachel has accomplished isn’t the big bag of evil it is being portrayed as. At 105 pounds she is, by the guidelines, underweight. By THREE WHOLE pounds. I can lose and gain three pounds with water pills and few beers. So what if she cut the last couple of days leading up to the competition to win a quarter mil?? Boxers do it. MMA fighters do it. Body builders do it. Wrestlers do it. Lots of healthy, strong, athletes cut to make weight and/or appearance.
But it isn’t healthy said The They – neither was being 260 pounds and living off pizza.
And I look at the things they said about her again – astonishingly frail, lost too much weight, unhealthy, too skinny – and thought “double standard”
I hate that. Quite frankly, most people do. Wanna see a facebook post blow up? Go to a female body builders page (which I love, by the way), find a pose picture and tell her she is too big, too muscley and looks like a man.
Let me look at the overweight They who criticized her and call them astonishingly fat, ask about the big meat wrapped around the big bones, grossly unhealthy, and tell them the buffet line is closed. I would never be allowed to say that about people. Why? Because it is wrong, it is ugly, and it is hurtful.
It didn’t sound any better when The They said it.
But I think the angle that pissed me off the most was the accusations that she had daddy issues, low self esteem, and, ultimately, she must have an eating disorder. Rachel became the poster child for what it looks like to have an unhealthy relationship with a dinner plate.
Except no one – NO ONE – knew that to be true. In fact, it still isn’t true. And it doesn’t matter how many times The They say it – it is not fact that Rachel has any type of mental challenge in the area of nutrition at all.
But her name still came out of people’s mouths like they knew her. And seriously, I hate that. The same “feel good, don’t judge me if you don’t know me, everyone has their own journey” They suddenly had some personal hotline into the life and motivation of a woman they had never met.
Never met. As in, don’t know, haven’t shared a meal with, no access to schedule, no conversation. In short, no clue about her, where she comes from or what she’s doing.
I bought People magazine because she was on the cover. Don’t judge. I wanted to know what she said. And here it is.
I am proud of my journey and excited for this new life…I’ve never felt better. I keep saying it: I am healthy.
Then rock on baby girl. Rock. On.