07 Apr The real Biggest Losers? Hypocrites. By Samantha Murphy-Laevens
Everyone knows who Rachel Frederickson is by now. Winner of the 15th season of ‘The Biggest Loser’, Frederickson has been the catalyst for many opinionated conversations, online and off, since revealing that she lost 60% of her body weight over the course of the season. One very common theme among these opinions has been speculation about an eating disorder. Since Frederickson’s win, articles focusing on the event have not been complete without dramatically worded descriptions of Frederickson’s “skeletal frame” and details about her apparent eating habits. Even Jillian Michaels, co-host of the show itself, has said that she believes Frederickson lost too much weight, stating in one interview with the Huffington Post that she was “immediately concerned” and “wondered how this had happened”.
With the epidemic of eating disorders that our society is facing, it’s natural for the public, the media and celebrities to worry. However, there is a strange hypocrisy in the concern that Frederickson was met with when she debuted her post weight-loss figure.
Everywhere we go, we are bombarded with this message: being overweight or obese is the most undesirable thing that can happen to a person. This message is broadcasted on the radio, stuck on roadside ads, and televised on shows such as The Biggest Loser.
On The Biggest Loser, thinness is worth $250,000. Overweight and obese people are humiliated as “motivation” to lose weight. Techniques such as dehydration before weigh-ins, excessive exercise regimes and extreme calorie restriction are the norm. Anything – anything – is more desirable than being fat, and you aren’t a winner until you’re thinner than the competition. So is it any wonder that Frederickson lost the weight that she did? On a show that literally pays people to lose the most weight possible, I’d say that we really shouldn’t be surprised.
When we watch shows like The Biggest Loser and promote the idea that one can’t be a winner until they’re thin, we lose the right to express concern about any potential eating disorders that Frederickson may have developed. Sure: as a society, we raise money for eating disorder recovery. We worry about celebrities and their BMIs and their eating habits. We give presentations about anorexia in schools. But at the end of the day, has anything really changed if we still promote the idea that being fat should be avoided at all costs? Isn’t that the eating disorder mentality that we’re trying to abolish?
Frederickson may have lost “too much” weight, but on a show that rewards the highest weight-loss, she did exactly what The Biggest Loser and its viewers wanted her to do. She won.
She won, and we can do better.