Why I hate The Biggest Loser - and why you should, too
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Imagine a TV program whose contestants were grieving widows trying to get over the loss of a spouse. Imaging that program included a host who screamed into a widow's face that she were disgusting and unworthy and weak-willed, that she should just suck it up, stop feeling sorry for herself and go on this date, even if she wasn't ready.
Or how about a show featuring adults who were abused as children, where the host sneered at their pain, called them *$* babies, and told them to just get over their problems and stop being traumatized.
We wouldn't stand for that. We would object to active abuse being heaped on almost any group of people.
And yet we accept it as okay if the people are fat. As if fat itself defines a person, and that definition is "lazy, weak-willed, stupid." As if fat people don't deserve the respect we pay to other people.
As if fat makes people second-class citizens.
The Biggest Loser creates an artificial environment where the contestants have one job and one job only: get less fat. And it makes them do this job in an appallingly unhealthy way. The amount of exercise that people endure, and the way they are made to eat, are nothing short of torture. If this was happening at Guantanamo Bay, human rights organizations would be up in arms.
Instead, millions of people tune in each week to watch far people get tortured. Because fat people don't deserve any better.
This is appalling. It would be appalling even if The Biggest Loser was successful. But the fact of the matter is that the failure rate of contestants after production is right up there with the failure rate of all diet programs, which is abysmal. Fast weightloss is an artificial panacea, and dieting is a rube's game designed to make big corporations rich while sacrificing the health of ordinary Americans.
But more than promoting the fantasy anyone can be thin if they just allow themselves to be tortured and treated like dirt, The Biggest Loser teaches people to hate themselves for being fat. It radiates loathing, and treats responsible weight losses like some kind of failure.
It tells people like me that they have no dignity.
You know what? I'm not buying it. Yes, I'm fat. Yes, I am working on becoming a healthier person, and being a healthier person means that I should weigh less. But on every step of the journey I am still a worthy human being deserving of respect. I am a person who has the right to laugh and love and enjoy a good meal.
I will not let reality TV take that away from me.