Biggest Loser Contestant Speaks Out

15Jun10

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In a recent article former Biggest Loser contestant Kai Hubbard spoke out about the unhealthy conditions that the show was created under.  Some of her most intense memories include:

By the time she’d reached the competition’s end, her hair was falling out and her family had pushed her to see a therapist to regain a healthier attitude about food. She’d been through months of dehydration for optimum loss before the show’s trademark weigh-in sessions, eating less than 1,000 calories each day while working out an average of five to eight hours daily — dropping to 144 pounds from a starting weight of 262.

I shouldn’t say that I saw this coming, but, I did.  This show is so unhealthy and damaging.  It’s not just damaging to the contestants on the show who are obviously pushing their bodies to unrealistic and unsafe limits for weight loss, it is also damaging for the millions of viewers who tune in each week.  Fat people trying to lose weight might look to this show as a place to learn ways of engaging with food and exercise to lose weight.  Instead they are taught that they are fat because they hate themselves and that food is the enemy.  Any time the contestants are not able to complete a workout they are chastised for being failures and told that giving up now means giving up on THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. I’m just saying, it’s a little much.  Watching fat people mountain bike up a 45 degree incline while being told that they are fat because they don’t love themselves, it borders on abusive.

I still must admit I have seen the show a few times, in part to be horrified, in part because I can’t look away.  The mot recent finale challenge included the final 4 contestants running a marathon.  A MARATHON.  People train for this type of thing for years, they were given 3 months.

I think the way the Biggest Loser pushes its contestants is dangerous because it’s viewers may internalize the anti-fat sentiments and fat self-loathing that the show creates.

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Also, about the weigh-ins.  I think there is something about the weigh-ins, especially the first one that is about public shaming of fat people.  It’s about fat people standing in front of America displaying the physical embodiment that loss of control creates.  They are scolded by trainers for letting it get this far and doctors use scare tactics that probably wouldn’t be allowed in enhanced interrogation to make fat people cry.  As the weigh-ins progress the contestants are allowed to put shirts on again.  It is interesting that when they are at their largest their bodies are expected to be near naked, exposed for the world to see.  As their bodies shift and things like excess skin become a cosmetic concern, the clothes come back on.  Some bodies are allowed to be publicly shamed and others are not.

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