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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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SVELTENSTRONG
    I also hate how the people competing in that show are treated and portrayed. That's why I don't watch The Biggest Loser - to me, that's neither inspiring nor entertaining.
    1833 days ago
  • EUPHRATES
    Interestingly, I don't have that reaction to the Biggest Loser at all. First, I've never seen them belittle anyone in a "personal" way - I've seen them push people out of their comfort zones but it's always in a "See, you didn't think you could do that but I KNEW you could!" kind of way. To me that's empowering (and Bob and Dolvette can kick my butt in the gym ANY time). Last season was particularly motivating for me (see blog here - http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_p
    ublic_journal_individual.asp?bl
    og_id=4169848).

    I do have issues with the unrealistic weight-loss (and how disappointed they get with a loss of just a few pounds, of course considering their only job is weightloss I can understand it, but for those out in the "real world" it sets up unrealistic expectations...well it could for those without enough sense to recognize the difference between the show and "real life" I suppose). And when I first started watching I had issues with how "in your face" Jillian could be (funny, now I'd pay cash money to have her in my face - and not just 'cause I'd like to get into her pants either). But over time I realized she's that way because she really gets involved and really cares (and sometimes, for some people, they NEED those kinds of wake up calls).

    So for me, it's inspiring. We DVR it so I can watch it the day after it airs (since I'm usually on my way to work when it's on). I just found out this week that the finale is on the 13th, and I've taken that whole week off for my birthday! So yay for NBC giving me an extra birthday present - no worries of spoilers! emoticon
    2852 days ago
  • .DUSTY.
    I disagree with just about everything you wrote. Especially when comparing The Biggest Loser with "a show featuring adults who were abused as children or grieving widows".

    The contestants aren't "being tortured" or "being treated like dirt".

    Time to chill out a little. Peace!
    2852 days ago
  • DRAKON9
    I agree with you. My personal goal is to be healthy and happy. If I lose weight while doing that, so much the better. I do not agree with either the exercise methods, nor the diet the contestants are put on. I don't see how the contestants CAN succeed after the show is over.
    2852 days ago
  • DEBIBLUE72
    i always have felt uneasy about the show and everyone i knew thought i was being overly critical. it was like we were watching 2 different shows. glad to know that it just wasn't me after all. emoticon
    2852 days ago
  • MELLISOND
    I watched a segment of the Biggest Loser series and found myself holding my breath in fear for some of the participants who appeared to be close to physical collapse.

    I think that any program that represents verbal abuse as normal or acceptable like Biggest Loser or that chef from hell or the Housewives of some city, are all damaging to our society.

    That being said, I agree that this particular horrible television program is worse than the others because of the way an entire group of people is treated.

    Thank goodness for Spark and the positive community I can visit every evening and no longer waste my time flicking through so much trash on evening television.
    2852 days ago
  • ILLINITEACHER52
    I worry about how the contestants will fare once they get back to real life. I like SP better. It is realistic and no one yells at you. That would be a real turn off for me!!
    2852 days ago
  • COLEENCOLE
    And get this: I read last week that the top career choice for kids today is to become a reality TV star. So sad.
    2853 days ago
  • SBNORMAL
    different point of view!
    2853 days ago
  • SHOOPETTE
    That's an interesting way to see it and you are quite right.
    2853 days ago
  • CHANGING-TURTLE
    YOU ARE SO RIGHT. I JUST NEVER SAW IT THAT WAY BEFORE. I WATCH THE SHOW EVERY WEEK AND I JUST READ A BOOK ABOUT ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO WENT THROUGH THAT HELL. I WILL NOT WATCH THAT SHOW AGAIN. I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT AND WILL NOT PUT UP WITH THAT ABUSE.NO ONE SHOULD. THANK YOU FOR MAKING IT SO CLEAR. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2853 days ago
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