I hate that show. I end up watching it quite a bit because Teh Hubby is obsessed with it. I hate it all the more for that.
[trigger warning: this post is about fat shaming and weight loss. please to avoid if you are dealing with ED or in any way find such discussions upsetting.]
You see, Teh Hubby is by the medical definition obese: more than 20 percent over his ideal weight*. I know women are supposed to be the ones obsessing about every extra ounce while morbidly obese men parade about in Speedos, but not so much in my house. For all I know, Teh Hubby showers with a shirt on, because I never see him without it. Every bite of something tasty- chocolate, cake, etc.- is immediately followed by "I shouldn't eat this". And we get to watch Fat Shaming For Dummies, otherwise known as The Biggest Loser.
Now it turns out that all the weight loss Teh Hubby was coveting was unhealthy where it wasn't simply water loss, which is dangerous and impossible not to regain. This makes my blood boil because shows like The Biggest Loser don't just fat shame, they set up Unrealistic Expectations. Which in turn sets up Guaranteed Failure.
Now in its eighth season, “The Biggest Loser” is one of NBC’s most-watched prime-time programs besides football, drawing an estimated 10 million viewers each week, according to Nielsen. It has clearly tapped into the American obsession with losing weight, as more than 200,000 people a year submit audition videotapes or attend open casting calls for the program.
It also has spawned a licensed merchandise business that will generate an estimated $100 million this year.
The series also highlights the difference between the pursuit of engaging television and the sometimes frenzied efforts of contestants to win, perhaps at the risk of their own health. Doctors, nutritionists and physiologists not affiliated with “The Biggest Loser” express doubt about the program’s regimen of severe caloric restriction and up to six hours a day of strenuous exercise, which cause contestants to sometimes lose more than 15 pounds a week.
. . .
JD Roth, an executive producer of the series who created its current format, said that while the show was extreme, “it needs to be extreme in my opinion.”
“For some of these people this is their last chance,” he said. “And in a country right now that is wrestling with health care issues and the billions of dollars that are spent on obesity issues per year, in a way what a public service to have a show that inspires people to be healthier.”
If you start exercising a little more, and eat a little healthier (maybe replace some of your soda with water and eat more fruit) you can expect to lose a pound or two a week. This is a Reasonable Expectation, and entirely beside the point. Exercising is good for you. It can improve mood, alleviate depression, strengthen muscles, improve your sex life and even relieve constipation. Eating healthy foods is good for you, they contain vitamins and minerals, proteins and carbs and even fats your body needs to do its job. Hydration is important as well, and water is the best way of getting there.
Funny how you never really hear it put that way. Only one doctor has ever said to Teh Hubby, "Hey, you have MS. You need to get your body as healthy as you can so that the effects of MS will be easier for you to withstand. It doesn't really matter whether you're overweight or not, you need to get exercise and eat nutritious food." That's a reasonable and logical goal: control your health as far as you are able. Good advice whether you have MS or not. Every other doctor says, "Hey, you're fat! Stop that! Fat is bad! Why should I sympathize with you if you're so fat?"** (As if excess weight causes MS. Hell, I'm underweight and have heart problems. Don't pretend a little adipose is the only cause of illness.)
But no, weight loss isn't good enough unless it's Biggest Loser worthy: dramatic, sudden and not even slightly real. Teh Hubby expects to lose 20 lbs in a month, when he loses 5, he gives up. Because the goal isn't being healthy, it's being skinny. I'm to be envied my slimness even as my health deteriorates.
These fuckers have sold shame to Teh Hubby, and millions upon millions of others, and then fat shame some more to excuse themselves. "We're saving the fatties, can't you see that? Pissing blood is so much better than being fat!"
Fuck you producers of The Biggest Loser. Go piss some blood.
*Extremely horrible people masquerading as polite members of society have actually asked me things like "Doesn't that bother you?", "Was he that heavy when you met?" and "How do you have sex?" The real answers to those questions are no, yes, and on every item of furniture in my house, including the kitchen floor. The answer such people usually get is "Fuck you, you horrible bigot."
**True story: one such doctor, in the same breath he used to fat shame Teh Hubby, turned to me and said, "And what about you? Do you have some sort of eating disorder? That's very unhealthy you know." I couldn't decide whether to laugh or slap him.