Why should adults have all the fun of enforced starvation, dehydration, and emotional abuse on national TV?
Finally, The Biggest Loser, NBC’s heinous, fat-hate juggernaut, is adding kids into this mix. Specifically, two 13-year-olds and a 16-year-old who are competing, sort of, in Season 14 of
Yelling At Fat People The Biggest Loser.
But don’t worry, The Biggest Loser producers have the kids’ best interests at heart. The kids aren’t really competing. They’re just going to be “mentored.” It sounds like they’re just going to endure the dangerous aspects of the show without weigh-ins or any hope of winning money from it. I guess having the kids compete for money would send the wrong message. You wouldn’t want the kids to think that life is a competition where winning money is the important thing. They should definitely get the message that being thin is the only important thing. Way to go, NBC. Nice work.
Why The Biggest Loser Should Be Stopped
I could probably write a treatise on why The Biggest Loser should be taken off the air. But I’ll share my top three reasons why right here.
- The Biggest Loser Is Physically And Emotionally Dangerous For the Contestants. Just from watching The Biggest Loser you can glean some things about the way the contestants are treated. (In this one clip alone from Australia Biggest Loser, you can see the emotional and physical duress the contestants are under, and the fact that they cannot even open a door to get fresh air.) About two and half years ago, I interviewed Season 3 finalist Kai Hibbard about her experiences on the “ranch.” She talked about how contestants were encouraged and, I would say, brainwashed, into intense dehydration, overexercising (sometimes while injured), and eating disordered behavior.
- The Biggest Loser Reinforces The Idea That Thinness, At Any Cost, Is Healthy. Diets don’t work, and that includes extreme diets. You won’t hear about it in the media, because facts don’t sell diets and weight loss drugs. And you also won’t hear about Biggest Loser contestants who gain the weight back, not because it doesn’t happen, but because they sign a huge contract without the benefit of counsel when they sign up for the show, and that contract includes a gag order with million dollar penalties. Even so, a few contestants have admitted to gaining all of the weight back, including Erik Chopin and Ryan C. Benson.
- The Biggest Loser Bolsters Fat Hatred And Stigma. More and more evidence is suggesting that the real danger of obesity has nothing to do with fat, and everything to do with the stigma of being fat. For 14 seasons in the U.S. (and multiple seasons in more than 20 countries around the world) The Biggest Loser has been reinforcing the stereotype that fat people are lazy and unhealthy and deserve to be berated, forced to exercise in pain and with injuries, and malnourished all for the sake of weight loss and entertainment. Millions of people watch this show every week and internalize this message. The show, in essence, makes “bullying for health” a viable and particularly dangerous concept, especially given the fact that fat kids are the most likely to get bullied.
Why Biggest Loser Is Particularly Terrible For Young People
Despite what you’ve heard about the epic dangers of the childhood obesity epidemic, there is no epidemic (obesity rates have leveled out over the last 10 years). There is no evidence to the claim that children will no longer outlive their parents. In fact, life expectancy continues to increase.
Just like with adults, every attempt to make fat kids thin has failed in the long run. All that dieting does is set these kids up for a lifetime of weight cycling, poor self esteem, and potential negative impacts to their cardiovascular and metabolic health. And it teaches them the sad reality that acceptance from adults means changing their bodies by drastic and dangerous means.
Plus, as I mentioned above, the show legitimates fat bullying, and now it’s looking to further legitimate fat kid bullying.
What fat kids really need is unconditional love, respect, appreciation, safe places to play and nutritious food. Just like thin kids. Just like all kids.
What You Can Do To Stop Biggest Loser
I’ve thought about the various ways to go about this, including creating email campaigns and petitions. I like both of those ideas, and if you’re reading this and want to start one up, please email me and I’ll be glad to promote it.
But I really like the quick and dirty aspect of a twitter campaign. So I’m starting the #stopbiggestloser campaign on twitter.
To make things really easy, you can just click on your favorite tweet below, and it will open in twitter and post to twitter once you approve it. You’re also welcome, of course, to tweet whatever you want. Just be sure to use the #stopbiggestloser hashtag, and it doesn’t hurt to direct your tweets to @NBC and/or @biggestlosernbc.
Stop profiting from stigma and starvation. #stopbiggestloser”
Feel free to comment below and let us know what you tweeted!
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.