Diet & Weight Magazine

What The Biggest Loser is Really About

By Danceswithfat @danceswithfat

Jillian MichaelsThe Biggest Loser has named a new champion.  Rachel Frederickson won the show by losing 60% of her body weight, going from 260 pounds to 105 pounds. This is a Biggest Loser Record. She lost the most and so she walked away with $250,000 because TBL is a game show wherein people manipulate their body size for money. It’s not a health show, it’s a game show. A terrible, terrible game show.

Since the show aired there has been much speculation about Rachel Frederickson’s health, I won’t be engaging in that – when I say that we shouldn’t make guesses about people’s health based on their weight, I mean it.  Besides, The Biggest Loser isn’t about health. If it was a health show and not a game show they wouldn’t eliminate people from the show, they wouldn’t insist that sweets are “unhealthy” and then have challenges where people can earn calls to their loved ones if they are willing to binge on baked goods, they wouldn’t allow people to drink gallons of water in a sitting to game their weigh in, they wouldn’t allow people to dehydrate until they urinate blood to game their weigh-in, they wouldn’t create a weigh in system that could be gamed, they wouldn’t force people to work out until they vomit or until they lose consciousness and the paramedics have to be called, they wouldn’t suggest that people ignore the advice of doctors and nutritionists, and they would take contestants seriously when they say that they are developing an eating disorder and not tell them to save it for the cameras.

The Biggest Loser uses the concept of health as an incentive, a smokescreen, and profit generator.  They use threats about, and promises of, health to convince fat people to be physically and mentally abused for profit.  They use the idea that they abuse fat people “for our own good to make us healthy” to help their audiences justify watching the physical and emotional abuse for entertainment.

Think emotional abuse is too strong a word?

The Domestic Abuse Project defines abuse as a systematic pattern of behaviors in a relationship that are used to gain and/or maintain control and power over another.  More specifically they go on to say that emotional abuse includes:

  • cursing, swearing and/or screaming at you
  • attacks on self-esteem and/or insults to your person (name-calling, put-downs, ridicule)
  • controlling and/or limiting your behavior
  • using the difference in physical size to intimidate you
  • criticizing your thoughts, feelings, opinions, beliefs and actions
  • telling you that you are “sick” and need therapy

Sound familiar?  The following quotes are from Jillian Michaels to Biggest Loser contestants:

  • I’m bored with the pathetic story!
  • If you quit on me again, you go home and no one is going to chase you!  No one!
  • You’re not getting it here (pointing to her head) that’s for G*#D#@* sure!
  • Get on the F$#&*%$ treadmill!
  • You’re not acting strong, you’re acting pathetic!
  • Anytime you lay down I want you to think Dead Father, that’s what I think!
  • Get on the treadmill now! (Pounding the treadmill to punctuate each word)
  • Get the F*#& up!

If you can stomach it, you can check out this video:

The Biggest Loser is a game show, it’s a game show that physically and emotionally abuses fat people for profit, under the guise that fat people deserve and even need to be treated abusively because we are fat. Studies have shown that watching TBL may actually discourage exercise and increase stigma against fat people.

While people are allowed to do what they want, to me there is no justification for watching it that makes it ok.  It doesn’t matter to me that people agree to go on the show – convincing a disenfranchised, marginalized and stigmatized population that they deserve to be treated poorly on television does not earn you a cookie, or a Biggest Loser branded carrot stick. as far as I’m concerned.

The Biggest Loser isn’t about health, it’s about money.  Money made on the backs of fat people who have been lied to and mistreated and exploited for nothing more than a game show.

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