The Biggest Loser Controversy

Alright, you guys. A few weeks have passed now since Rachel Frederickson caused an uproar was named the season finale winner of The Biggest Loser after losing 60 percent of her original body weight. At 105 pounds, she won the grand prize of $250,000. I’ve thought a lot about this, and I want to dedicate a post to this subject today.

Rachel Frederickson The Biggest Loser[Source]

Before I share my thoughts, I want to say that yes, I watch The Biggest Loser. I watch the show for entertainment (isn’t that why anyone watches something?) and to relax on Tuesdays after I get home from the gym. I like watching the different competitions that the contestants take part in, I walk away from each episode with at least one new exercise idea, and I’m definitely a sucker for the heart wrenching stories that each contestant shares with the world over the course of the season. Plus, Dolvett is kind of hot, amiright?

However, I also want to say that no, I do not agree with everything promoted or done on the show. This shouldn’t come as a huge shock, but I don’t believe that the practices encouraged on The Biggest Loser are the healthiest ways to lose weight. First of all, nothing about the “reality” show is realistic when you think about it. The participants move to The Biggest Loser ranch where they are displaced from their families, jobs, other commitments, and LIFE. Of course weight loss will occur when put in a controlled environment without access to high calorie food. Of course weight loss will happen when working out for four to six hours a day. In any other setting, someone consuming this little caloric content while working out this much may be diagnosed with anorexic athletica or exercise bulimia. Scary. I also don’t love how the competition is based on only one number, the one on the scale. As a personal trainer myself, I would never scream in someone’s face, although that’s part of the entertainment factor for me. Finally, I can’t stand some of the promotion that takes place for the show’s sponsors. Foods that simply are NOT healthy and are full of chemicals are advertised as being THE solution to living a healthy lifestyle. Oy.

Despite these things, I still watch the show, and I watched the season finale this year. In full disclosure, my first reaction when Rachel stepped onto the stage was a loud gasp. I said out loud, “oh my God, she’s way too skinny.” I felt upset that David, my favorite contestant from the beginning, probably no longer stood a chance at winning. I felt sad that Rachel, who in my opinion looked AWESOME at the second to last episode, let herself get to “this point” and that thousands of young girls would now be looking to Rachel for inspiration on their own weight loss journeys. It seemed like the trainers and some of the other contestants, based on their reactions, shared my sentiments.

Rachel Frederickson - The Biggest Loser[Source]

I borderline obsessed thought about this for days after the finale aired. Maybe that makes me a weirdo since I don’t actually know these people in real life, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like my initial reaction to Rachel’s weight loss was downright wrong.

Because who am I to judge how someone else looks? Who am I to define what is healthy for another person? Who am I to say that someone looks too big or too small? What business do I have body shaming anyone, whether it’s someone I know, a contestant on The Biggest Loser, or you as a reader of my blog?

What it comes down to is that I don’t have enough information to judge Rachel in either direction, healthy or not. Yes, my first reaction (along with thousands of others based on the social media backlash/outcry) was to say that Rachel looked shockingly “skinny.” But is it really that shocking? The girl was competitive by nature, which we saw throughout the entire season. She was competing for $250,000 to lose as much weight as possible. What would you do for $250,000? Everyone seems to be in an uproar over how much weight Rachel lost in the time she was back home before the season finale, but nobody seems to be paying any attention to the huge numbers that ALL Biggest Loser contestants drop week after week. When it comes down to it, is there really much of a difference?

I feel a little sick for Rachel, because she has been and will continue to be, the unfortunate target of body shaming. Don’t you guys think that Rachel was probably body shamed a LOT when she weighed almost 300 pounds? First she’s “too fat,” and now she’s “too thin.” Despite being the season finale winner, the girl just can’t win.

I guess my takeaway from all of this is to just proceed with caution when being quick to judge someone, in any aspect of life. I hope I don’t sound like I’m preaching, because this is definitely something I can work on myself. You just never know what someone might be going through. It’s unfortunate that people like to quickly share their opinions and thoughts, often without actually putting much thought into them at all. A couple of months ago, someone at work told me that they thought I looked “too skinny” and asked if I was eating enough. They may not have realized it, but those words actually really affected me and hurt my feelings. In the same month, a different person told me that I looked too muscular. That was only two people, so I can’t even imagine how Rachel feels, being at the mercy of everyone’s shaming. What is one thing to someone is another thing to another, but it all leads to the same result: let’s not be so quick to judge.

–Let’s chat–
Do you watch The Biggest Loser? What do you like or dislike about it? What were your thoughts on the season finale this year?

For more thoughts on The Biggest Loser season finale, check out these reads:

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10 thoughts on “The Biggest Loser Controversy

  1. I don’t watch the show, I never have. I agree though, I think it’s hard to really judge. Everyone is going to have their own opinion, but it’s not always right to express it, especially when it’s a harsh one. As long as she remains on a healthy path, then that’s great for her!

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  2. I didn’t watch this season….but I TOTALLY agree with you. Who are we to judge?? It’s so hard — because of course I initially was shocked at the transformation that was plastered all over the news — and to think she went too far. But after I stepped back, I realized she put in a lot of hard work to get to where she is — good for her! And if she’s healthy and maintains her new, healthy lifestyle — all the better. 🙂 Great post!!

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  3. I don’t like the show never have. I read interviews with her that says she was eating 1600 calories a day but working out 3-4 hours a day and taking multiple fitness classes and walking on a treadmill at home. Hello? That’s not healthy. Yes she won the money, but I wish that unsustainable and healthy method was publicized more, especially to people who look up to her. It’s not thin-shaming, she looks frail and weak.

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  4. I watch it (have for years) and like you, I don’t agree with everything they do and promote. But, I get that even though it is about weight loss and hopefully making life-long changes, it is a game. I think that Rachel did what she needed to do to win. This year the eliminations did away with the strategizing and game-play that often was part of the show but it doesn’t mean the contestants didn’t still “play the game.” My hope is that she will go forward in a healthy manner and not let the media get her down!!!

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  5. I stopped watching the show awhile ago for all the reasons you listed. And while Rachel looks too skinny, I agree with you, we don’t know enough and she is competitive. She is in such a lose-lose situation, she’s either too fat or too skinny, I just hope she has a great therapist and support system.

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  6. Hi! As I mentioned to you last week, this is a topic I spent a lot of time obsessing over & reading everything in sight.. I think it was the initial shock that got me, seeing her at 150 she looked healthy and happy to me, seeing her at 105 made me feel an Oh My God reaction. But the more I have thought about it and read about other BL winners, she will find the weight that is healthy for her and she will develop into a more ‘normal’ life style. Working out 4-6 hours a day and consuming 1600 calories is not the healthiest.. I am hopeful she finds the right path and what makes her happy and I’m sure the payout of 250K isn’t too bad either…. A big thing for me and my feelings about this, it was never from a place of weight shaming and it makes me sad to see that is what this has turned into from the media standpoint. A quick glance around CVS and every magazine has her as the cover “Too skinny” etc. She worked incredibly hard to get to where she did, she’s an athlete who was competing for a winning prize.. And after a week of stressing over it (seriously, you’d think she was a family member of mine..) I really think shes going to be just fine.

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  7. I don’t watch the show, but I really agree with what you’ve described. I’ve been on the receiving end of “you’re too skinny” and it’s a pretty horrible feeling. Just last week, a fellow instructor said to me “you’re looking really skinny… you should go home and eat a hamburger” and it really upset me. I hadn’t lost any weight, as I am cautious of it, so to hear an instructor say it in the way she did was hurtful. I think this girl just needs time to find that balance of eating and working out in regular life (it took time to find that balance for me), but I think people need to give her a break!

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  8. Thank you for this. I’ve been the recipient of concerned comments about my weight (“You’re so skinny!” hurts more than people think…). And yes, I do have some issues right now with food control. But. Hearing that from other people – who do NOT know what else is going on in my life – is not helpful. The other thing I don’t care for is commenting on others’ food / exercise choices. Happens all the time – to me and to others – and my initial reaction is always, why is it any of the commenter’s business? How is this having an impact on him or her? Anyway. Thank you.

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  9. Pingback: 2014: Best of F&F | Fitness & Feta

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