Poll: What Do You Think about Weight-Focused Reality TV Shows?

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/14/2009 6:36 AM   :  236 comments   :  14,398 Views

See More: body image, obesity, tv, poll,
It's no secret that obesity is a problem in America. The majority of people—not just a few—are overweight or obese. Yet the advertisements, singers, actors, TV shows, models and movies of popular culture don't reflect these numbers. Neither did so-called "reality" TV…until now.

Lately, lots of new reality shows are popping up that feature overweight and obese people. "The Biggest Loser" was the first and it's still hugely popular. Then came "Ruby," and "Dance Your Ass Off," but all of these reality shows have one thing in common: losing weight. But FOX's new "More to Love " show, which is like an overweight version of "The Bachelor," isn't about weight loss at all. It's about finding love right now—not later when you may or may not be thinner.

I've seen bits and pieces of all of these shows, and I watched the first couple of episodes of "More to Love" out of curiosity. With more and more weight-focused shows hitting the airwaves, including the Lifetime sitcom "Drop Dead Diva," I'm wondering: What do YOU think about weight-focused shows like these? Are they helping us step toward "fat acceptance" or do they "normalize obesity" in a negative way? Are we all just reading into it too much?

I’m a bit torn over these shows.

Overall, I'm happy to see average people on TV—it's been a long time coming. A TV show like "More to Love," in my opinion, shows that overweight and obese individuals are worthy and capable of finding true love RIGHT NOW. It shows that they don't have to lose weight or change themselves in order to do so. Plus, the contestants are probably more like the average viewer, and maybe more relatable. But do we really expect (or want to watch) truly "real" television? We all know that most "reality" shows are anything but. And TV dramas and sitcoms, much like movies, are a bit escapist from our "average" reality.

But another part of me feels that separating all overweight people from "The Bachelor" and into their own show is separate—and not equal. While it's a step in the right direction to feature this many average/overweight women on a single show, I think the BEST step would be to include them on the mainstream shows, not on their own show. To me, "More to Love" says that overweight people are only interested in and capable of falling in love with other overweight people. It says that a hot "Bachelor" couldn't possibly fall in love with an overweight woman, like the smart, beautiful women on "More to Love." I'm not sure a message like that is progress at all.

Here's an interesting segment from CBS news, featuring Emme, plus-size supermodel and host of "More to Love," that discusses some of these ideas. If you have trouble viewing the video below, click here to watch it on CBS.com.




What do you think of "More to Love" and other weight-focused shows? What kind of message do you think they're sending?


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Comments

  • DJSAWALL
    236
    I love the biggest loser and did watch ruby...the other shows, not so much! What did I get out of it? I watched some of the players stay the same weight, even though they all seemed to work as hard as others during their exercising time and were eating what was available to them. I saw the inside of their frig and things in there were what we are told were the right items to eat when you are watching your weight..but once in a while they didn't move the scale or even gained. Their disappointment was the same as I have felt when I thought I had eatten right and did my 2 miles a day, 4 days a week. That gave me encouragement because when that happened to me, it made me realize that there are going to be speed bumps in the road. You need to keep on keeping on, until you get to your own healthy goal. - 1/8/2011   8:26:31 AM
  • ETHELMERZ
    235
    Weight control or sorta Wink and Smile weight control is a billion dollar business in the western world, and these silly shows will be watched by all sorts of dim lights, same thing as those tabloid magazines and keeping track of which celeb sneezes or wears mismatched clothing. What next, tv shows about addicted people, or camera's in public bathrooms, in the name of entertainment?? - 1/4/2011   9:10:29 PM
  • 234
    I DON'T THINK IT IS MADE FOR HELP PEOPLE TO LEARN HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT, THIS IS JUST BUSINESS - 12/17/2010   11:13:32 AM
  • 233
    could care less... I don't watch ANY "reality" shows because they aren't! - 12/16/2010   3:48:14 AM
  • 232
    I don't like these showa. I can't stand the way Gillian Michaels speaks to participants , so I never watch the biggest loser anymore. I don't like any show that doesn't see a person only their bdy size. When I was growing up ( I am 60 years old now) we never thought about body size or image and I don't recall that many people being overweight then . It is since body size became such an issue that so many people are so focussed on it that I think it became a problem. I think people who were a normal weight tried to diet down to super skinny and then all the problems start because they can't maintain the weight and the yo yo dieting begins. Also the more we focus on what we can and can't eat, the more we focus on food and we become obsessed with it. - 12/15/2010   4:07:30 PM
  • 231
    I am not a fan of any of the shows. I have watched some of the Biggest Loser, but quite honestly, if I had someone yelling at me the way Jillian Michaels yells at the contestants, I would walk off and quit. Verbal abuse is not motivation-there is a better way to treat people and still get results.

    On a more positive note the amount of weight lost and the results can be very inspiring and give hope to others who feel trapped.

    I may actually be more inclined to watch it with Jillian off the show. - 12/15/2010   10:23:32 AM
  • ELLEN2010
    230
    The Biggest Loser has gotten away from what the journey is really all about (weight loss and getting healthy) and now just about the game playing. - 12/14/2010   12:09:58 PM
  • DANUTZABC
    229
    I know I will probably get "in trouble" for this comment with some people, but a previous comment comparing big people to gay people really got to me. And sorry for the long post in advance.

    I realise it can't be easy going through life as an overweight person and I know people can be mean, but if Spark People taught me anything is that being overweight is more often than not "a choice". I called it a choice because I've seen on this site amazing weight losing stories from amazing people who started off , for example, as being extremely overweight or having physical disadvantages; this just goes to show you that most people can loose weight (small or big) when they decide they want to.
    Saying that, being gay, a woman, black or a certain religion (just to name a few of the things laws were created to protect people) are not a choice and are not changeable. Laws should be in place for this and people have thought and died for this kind of rights.

    I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I am very offended about putting fat people on the same level as gay people. Gay people don't have a choice (in my opinion) and there is a long history, which still goes on today, of persecution against them, alongside with stigma and shame. For example they can't get married or it makes it harder, if not impossible, to adopt, certain jobs might be harder to get, etc. I'm not here to cam pain for gay people, just wanted to point that they are denied of fundamental rights, which big people are not, to my knowledge.

    As far as acceptance goes, it's not fair to treat someone different just because they are fat and I think most all of us are guilty of judging someone else at some point or another, for some reason or another and I think we all felt judged at some point. From what I have seen bigger, fat, obese people (or whatever someone term someone wants to use), usually don't accept themselves for who their are or are unhappy with how they are, this is why I am on this site trying to get slimmer and fitter along side with so many people. I'm saying this because it's harder to make people accept something we can't accept ourselves.
    Maybe my views are different because I didn't grow up in America, I don't know if that makes a difference.

    I hope I didn't offend anyone.

    And to be in-time with this post I would like to say that I only heard about The Biggest Loser, from the shows mentioned here and I really like the show. It is motivational but I also get, like so many people, it's just a TV show and not actual reality so I don't believe it's all applicable in real life or to me. I do like this show because it shows you almost anyone can loose weight and if someone at 400 pounds can maybe I can too.
    As for More to Love, I don't think I will be watching as I don't watch The Bachelor either and I keep clear of this kind of shows usually. But like someone else said, these shows feature either (very) skinny or (very) big women which puts most of us, including me, somewhere in the middle, so not really represented on TV. - 8/31/2010   7:36:04 PM
  • 228
    I like the Biggest Loser and Ruby, it shows the journey and the mental pain some of us go through. Don't like the other reality shows I just think they open up more riducule, and making fun of those who are overweight. - 8/29/2010   12:16:31 PM
  • 227
    The sad thing about people of "size"...is that we are still discrimnated against as much as ever. People on the street will give you the "body check" like it is their job to clue you in that you have a problem...well excuse me but I think skinny people have more problems, in that they can't see the person for the weight.

    So how come the new laws coming out protect the homosexuals out there, but NOT those who are HURTING far more, inside large bodies that are treated with shame.

    God help us to "walk a mile in my shoes"! To LOVE others as we would be loved.... - 10/10/2009   8:16:10 AM
  • 226
    "The biggest Loser" Inspired pleople to do something about it you have to work hard to achieve Success in losing weight. "More to Love" just make me want to turn the TV OFF. - 9/23/2009   12:01:26 PM
  • 225
    'Biggest Loser' is the best! - 9/16/2009   8:24:03 PM
  • 224
    I think Biggest Loser is highly motivating for anyone to watch! I have never been as large as the contestants but they have motivated me none the less. To get to know them and hear their stories and struggles and then see the triumphs are just awesome. new season begins TONIGHT! LOVE Bob and Jillian! - 9/15/2009   9:32:04 AM
  • 223
    I do like the biggest loser and Ruby and they motivte me to ride my bike while I watch. More to Love I didnt like at all. Dance your ass off was good but I think they should have named it something else. I have kids and I dont like the new world way of talking. - 9/10/2009   4:52:02 PM
  • ANGELSWINGS
    222
    I do like The Biggest Loser and Ruby. But I have been watching More to Love although I do not like those Bachlor type shows. I feel the woman need to get some consuling if they feel they cannot get a man. And he isn't all that. I feel like they are falling for him only because they feel they cannot do any better. He is boring if you ask me. I think it is sad. I have been a big girl for a long time and never, EVER had problems getting a date. And with an average size person that just liked what they seen inside and out. - 9/10/2009   7:51:53 AM
  • BONNIEBELLE1175
    221
    I agree. It is separate but not equal. I don't believe that there's a need for this type of separation and it leads itself to exploitation. While these types of shows annoy me, what really bothers me is when they have a story on the news about obesity and they just go out on the street and film overweight people on the street from the neck, chest or waist down. - 8/31/2009   4:57:54 AM
  • 220
    It celebrates an unhealthy life style and promotes discrimination against the overweight. - 8/29/2009   9:04:12 AM
  • 219
    I don't like "More to Love" and shows of that ilk because I don't want to watch people dating, etc. I also care little for the talent competitions, enough already!

    I watch The Biggest Loser to learn about fitness options.

    I watch Ruby regularly and can totally relate to her. I think her show has been good for many people and if you don't believe me go to the site and read the message boards. http://www.mystyle.com/mystyle/show
    s/ruby/index.jsp
    - 8/29/2009   7:52:02 AM
  • 218
    I love the picture in the magazine. Our society shows pictures of the size 0's and it affects how young children look at themselves. I tell my 10 year old every day how beautiful she is. She is not overweight, but she isn't small (height and weight)like many of her friends and is the tallest in her class. I believe there should be more pictures of women of different sizes to show that we are not all the same and we should be loved for the person we are. I also believe that we should work to live healthy lifestyles. - 8/28/2009   5:19:13 PM
  • 217
    Ummmm . . . Why watch TV at all? - 8/28/2009   8:39:59 AM
  • NICOLE0012
    216
    I agree,
    More To Love reasonates the belief that only overweight men would look twice at overweight women. Perhaps this is true, in most cases, as I have found that as I became only a few pounds overweight-per my physician---I get flirted with less-or none. This is surely also a reflection of my self image, as I tend to "disappear when I gain weight" - 8/27/2009   7:36:56 PM
  • 215
    More to Love bothers me. It seems like you have to be too thin to be on the Bachelor, and overweight to be on More to Love. If they didn't focus on the weight so much I'd like it better. Everyone deserves to be loved no matter what the size, so why focus on the size? I don't think it helps with acceptance because the whole show is focused on weight, so either people won't watch it, or will ridicule it (unless they relate to it). This may be naive - but I would like to see people as people - not model thin or "plus sized". - 8/21/2009   12:03:00 PM
  • 214
    I just wanted to point out that The Bachelor can't have size 10 women on the show because let's face it, what size 8 or 10 woman wants to compete with all the size 2s and 4s? Talk about miserable.
    Reality TV is just there for entertainment, let's not read too much into it. - 8/21/2009   11:18:14 AM
  • SXYSLIM
    213
    I like the idea of reality shows for plus sized people. I personally think it sends a positive message for people to embrace their body no matter the size or shape. In todays society, people have a generalization of what you should look like in order to be on tv and i definitely do NOT agree with that. What are we teaching our children?? As long as those shows are geared towards living a positive lifestyle i have no problem with it! - 8/21/2009   10:42:04 AM
  • 212
    I can't get into reality shows much at all, and fat exploitation really bothers me.

    There is one show I really admire, though, "X-Weighted." It's a very interesting program, on Discovery Health. Worth a look. - 8/21/2009   1:09:19 AM
  • 211
    I've been giving this much thought since I came across it a couple of days ago. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that these people have chosen to be on this type show; they must know they're being exploited; and they're probably being compensated very nicely for leaving their families, homes and jobs for whatever period of time it may take.

    Still, if that's what they have determined is the only way they can force themselves to stick to a health plan--I say health because they usually get much more than just food limitations--the more power to them. I am referring, of course, to those programs that have weight loss goals.

    I haven't seen the "fat bachelorette" type show yet, so I can't comment on it, but I wish they had a version for "old and fat"! - 8/20/2009   7:11:38 PM
  • 210
    I really hate more to love. If these are just regular people trying to find love why do they need to advertise that there all overweight people and when the introduce them post there weight everywhere? It just sickens me, the exploitation of these women and the self-esteem issues that are played upon for entertainment value. I like the idea of the show but I dont really like all the focus upon the weight. Can't really say I'm a fan of the whole bachlor series, for many of the same reasons. - 8/20/2009   12:50:48 PM
  • CRANKYCRONE1
    209
    The only reality shows I enjoy are Top Chef and the evening news. - 8/20/2009   12:42:07 PM
  • 208
    I LOVE Drop Dead Diva... the whole show points out and makes fun of the fact that people are separated and then treated differently because of weight. I really like the "accept me as I am" and "love me for who I am, not what I weigh" that the show gives off. - 8/20/2009   12:21:46 PM
  • 207
    I think that all of the Bachelor type "reality" shows are cruel and ridiculous. What better way to lose your self respect than to have 20 women vying for the affections of one man and see one "eliminated" each week. How does that teach anyone to accept who they are for what they are right now? I think it is especially cruel to overweight women who are not comfortable with who they are and what they look like. Only one woman out of the group might feel like she is something special. I like "Biggest Loser" because it helps people to have a feeling of accomplishment and to change their lives in a good way. It makes people healthier and it inspires millions of others to make healthy changes as well. "More to Love" is a far from healthy as it gets! - 8/20/2009   11:51:46 AM
  • 206
    I feel embarrassed for those folks getting in front of the world and letting it all hang out!
    To me, its a personal journey. I accept encouragement and criticism and from family and friends, but to put it out for entertainment is heartbreaking. It is encouraging to see people lose weight, but the circus that goes along with it is sad. - 8/20/2009   10:35:26 AM
  • 205
    It's sad to hear the women on "More to Love" talking about how they never thought they'd find love because of their size. They're all young, attractive women and there are plenty of men out there that would love them just the way they are. There's a lot of life in front of these ladies and yet their comments make it seem as though they're doomed to spinsterhood if this guy doesn't choose them. So while the underlying concept might be well-intentioned (maybe?), the program really just demonstrates the low self-esteem and lack of confidence of young women, and to me, makes overweight women look desperate. - 8/20/2009   8:14:17 AM
  • 204
    I am a huge huge fan of the Biggest Loser and I believe that shows like Ruby and The Biggest Loser have a great idea in front of them. People are over weight, watch what these people are doing to change this growing problem. It is a life journey and I know from my dad being severely overweight that people struggle with it daily. To have a role model on TV and to watch what their trainers and others are suggesting them to do on a daily basis to work towards their goals is great for the average American.

    I have also watched 2 episodes of More to Love. I think this show is good for the public. Those overweight have just as much reason to find love as any other one of us. Although I have stopped watching this TV show because I do not like the everyday dating reality show and I really do like the idea of weight focused tv shows giving more to the viewer as fitness tips and the like. - 8/20/2009   1:15:29 AM
  • 203
    I have to agree. I think if you're going to show "plus sized" people as normal (whatever that is these days - I gues it depends on who you ask), then they should be in normal situations. When More To Love promos started running I got a little upset. They advertised it like the average size woman can't find love, from what I'm hearing & seeing, it's no picnic for anyone these days. THEN they showed the guy.......... I looked at my husband, whom I consider very attractive and in fairly good shape for his age and I said to him - "just becus I'm overweight doesn't mean I'm not attracted to "regular" sized men - look at you! Where is it written that big people can only be with big people!" Very upsetting - I haven't watched one moment of the show.

    As far as the weight loss shows, they are VERY motivating, however, these people live & breathe diet and exercise. Everything is there at their disposal, with people there to help guide them, with no outside distractions. It makes great entertainment, but alot of these people go back to their regular lives and many put some (if not most) of the weight back on............ Exploitation or entertainment?- - - I think it's a very fine line. - 8/19/2009   10:52:10 PM
  • SGIRL47
    202
    Yes I think the shows are good and along with the weight loss programs there are also some on health and nutrition like daytime talk shows, Opra and Dr Oz is starting his own show in September. So it is not just all about weight loss but how
    to do it in a healthy way. - 8/19/2009   10:14:14 PM
  • RMONICO
    201
    I like these shows because it actually shows obese people and doesn't make them look like freaks. I think that fat or obese people learn to hate the way they look from an early age. They aren't portrayed in a positive light. Not all fat people sit around and eat fast food and candy bars. People have weight issues for many different reasons. I think that bigger people tend to put themselves last and they don't take care of themselves. They are so busy taking care of everyone else that there isn't any time or energy to take care of themselves. When my weight spikes it is usually because I put myself last and don't think about exercising, eating right and not really dealing with my emotions in a healthy way. I think if there are 62 million women in this country who wear a size bigger than size 12, why isn't there marketing for them? Instead of diet products why not health promotion? I think that there is a deep seated discrimination against fat people and most people don't want to look at them. These shows put bigger people in perspective. - 8/19/2009   6:36:25 PM
  • JAZZERCISEGENIE
    200
    Love the biggest looser. Great show .The other shows not to happy with. extreme measure to try and get unhealthy people to think loosing wieght a snap. It is not and it is hard work on a daily basis. - 8/19/2009   6:08:02 PM
  • MJPBOOKS
    199
    The reality is personal motivation. Once the "contest" is over, so is the contestant. I have struggled all my life and finally dropped 55 pounds and have kept it off for the last 2 years. I feel better, can do more, and, of course, look better. It's as much as a head project as a body project, if you don't believe in yourself it won't work. - 8/19/2009   2:57:27 PM
  • 198
    I have not seen this show and honestly have no desire to see it. If the show was really about finding love at any size, the women would be co-mingled with small, medium and large women. Like Chucko326, I've been a big girl most of my life and I've never had a problem with dating because I am confident in who I am no matter what size I am.

    I do enjoy Biggest Loser very much. To me it helps shows everyone that sometimes being overweight isn't just about overeating, it's about deeper subconscious issues that many people have. - 8/19/2009   2:42:58 PM
  • 197
    I watch More to Love because its such a train wreck. I agree with one commenter who said it was horrible that they put the girls' weight up when they were introduced. If the show really wanted to tell us that its OK to accept your overweight body as it is right now, and find love, they would just have a show with plus-size girls - but they wouldn't force them to talk about their weight for the full hour of the show. This is not a show about big girls who can't find love because of their weight...this is a show about big girls who have no self-confidence and therefore can;t attract or keep a boyfriend. I have been "plus-sized" my entire dating life, but was confident in what I have to offer people, and I think the confidence is more important than the weight. - 8/19/2009   1:19:47 PM
  • PEPPER33
    196
    I love Ruby and The Biggest Loser. I am happy that network TV is finally showing "regular people" as well as the young, thin & beautiful. I think it is time to give our younger girls a look at reality in all shapes and sizes. - 8/19/2009   10:39:31 AM
  • 195
    I generally don't watch the game shows that they are calling "reality" tv, however, out of curiosity I have watched an episode or 2 of More to Love. While it is nice to see women on tv that aren't super thin size 0 (if that can actually be a size), I have a few problems with the show. I really thought it was degrading of them to put up how much the women weigh along with the other info (like name, age, location, and occupation). I have never watched the bachelor but I am sure they don't go posting the super skinny women's weights. I am also turned off by how whiny some of the women are, saying things like if I don't get this guy no one will ever love me and blah blah blah. If you don't love (or at least like) yourself then how are you going to be able to be in a relationship, such as the one being competed for on such shows?
    I watch the Biggest Loser some too, but have issues with that show as well, but just try to focus on the inspirational parts. I am a big fan of Ruby, which is actual "reality" tv, following a woman around in her daily life as she struggles to lose weight. I think the show is very inspirational. I think people can relate to Ruby (no matter how much weight they have to lose). - 8/19/2009   10:37:12 AM
  • STAYATHOME_JEN
    194
    I love watching Biggest Loser AND Ruby. Those shows, especially Ruby, are very inspiring to me. They ARE about weight loss and getting healthy. Ruby started out at 700+ pounds and is down to around 325...how could that not be inspiring? Just watching her be able to do things that she never thought would be possible makes me feel very happy for her and also to appreciate the body that I have. I AM able to do everything that she is just now becoming able to do. I've been getting out there and actually trying some new things that iv'e always wanted to do, but haven't because of how I perceive myself. Recenty my husband, kids, and I have taken up kayaking and it's awesome! I'm not saying I never would have tried it without watching Ruby or Biggest Loser but they definately played their part.

    I've never watched the show 'more to love', I don't like the bachelor/bachelorette type reality shows. - 8/19/2009   8:02:26 AM
  • 193
    I have only watched the Biggest Loser (I live in England) and have to say that I think it is a great programme. Losing weight is obviously a massive struggle and to get the opportunity to go on campus and shed a huge amount of weight is not something that I would pass up. - 8/19/2009   4:30:45 AM
  • 192
    Love the show More To Love
    shows that you dont have to be a skinny person to find love
    and that love comes in all sizes - 8/19/2009   2:20:32 AM
  • 191
    I think they're lame. No, I don't think they're taking advantage of overweight contestants, but it's not something they should be promoting either. - 8/19/2009   1:57:22 AM
  • BOPCIAOF6
    190
    I don't like any of the reality shows. First of all, they're not about reality--the situations are fabricated--even "Biggest Loser", and I feel everyone loses. I don't have cable TV so my analog channels are logjammed with these kinds of shows. Thank God for PBS and great British comedies. - 8/18/2009   7:45:56 PM
  • 189
    I've seen bits of "More to Love" and "Biggest Loser" - and I admit, I do NOT like the opening to "More to Love." Zooming up on the thinner women, still idolizing in their portrayal of them, contrasted with larger women who are dressed to the nines and looking GORGEOUS.

    What I would like to see in "reality TV" would be something where normal, average people make smaller life changes that EVERYONE could do - something like "this week, the challenge is to walk for 20 minutes once a day." "This week, drink one more glass of water each day." Little things like that making a difference. It would show people losing weight, living healthier, all that jazz. If there was a group of contestants, why not have a prize for a "challenge" or something be personal time with a stylist who could make that person look his/her best in clothes or whatever?

    Something like that where viewers could "play from home" and maybe win prizes? I don't know. It would be awesome, and, for once, real!

    (That said, I do admit to a guilty pleasure in reality TV... it's so bad it's good!) - 8/18/2009   7:24:02 PM
  • RICKSFIRSTLADY
    188
    I think society has given in to the idea that people are going to be overweight and overweight people are beginning to accept who they are and they realize that they are lovable. More to love is just as acceptable as Rock of Love, Flavor Flav and all the other shows that exploit women who seem to be needy and have low self-esteem. - 8/18/2009   7:06:34 PM
  • 187
    I think that some people will do whatever they can to get onto TV - maybe they have nothing to lose, nothing to gain, or they have nothing to do! Whatever the case may be, reality TV is not something I get into. - 8/18/2009   6:36:57 PM

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