#stopbiggestloser

I’m not sure how many folks yesterday read this article by Golda Poretsky at Body Love Wellness. To quote Golda, in a nutshell — because I hadn’t really planned on spending time or brains writing today — “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.”

She’s starting a Twitter campaign to try to get the show to not go ahead with this move. “Just be sure to use the #stopbiggestloser hashtag, and it doesn’t hurt to direct your tweets to @NBC and/or @biggestlosernbc.”

I don’t know if this campaign will work, if it will actually be enough to get the show to realize — or care about — how harmful this move may be.

But I do know that kids — even teenagers, and in some cases, especially teenagers — deal with enough bullying and shaming already. All it serves to do is to browbeat them and to make the abusers — because, yes, body shaming is verbal abuse — feel better about themselves. The last thing kids need is a multimillion dollar show, complete with celebrities, standing against them.

What they do need is more people speaking up for them.

ETA: Ragen Chastain and Jeanette DePattie have started a petition as well.

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18 comments on “#stopbiggestloser
  1. Caitlin says:

    Ugh, “The Biggest Loser” is bad enough as it is, but bringing kids into it? What a disaster.

  2. Joe Davis says:

    I’ll be watching this season!

    • Tori says:

      Let me get this straight. On a post characterizing The Biggest Loser as bullying and abusive and protesting the inclusion of minors in the practices of said show, you:

      1. Did not feel it necessary to dispute that The Biggest Loser bullies and verbally abuses fat people.
      2. Did feel the need to inform all of us reading that you would be watching this upcoming season, therefore offering your tacit approval of both its current and future practices.

      Stay classy — but do it somewhere else, because you will not be commenting back here again.

    • Caitlin says:

      Did you even read the post? Or did you just start mashing your keyboard out of habit?

      • Tori says:

        For the record, I meant what I said when I said Joe Davis would not be commenting further here. And also for the record, this has not stopped him. (Though when one begins a comment by gaslighting abuse on the blog of an abuse survivor, it doesn’t exactly make me question whether my decision was the right one.)

        That said, I couldn’t resist sharing this parting tidbit of his with you:

        “If you don’t want to have a rational discussion involving both sides of a convo, trying to block someone from doing it is not the way. To me, that’s kind of a form
        of bullying.”

        Because, definitely:

        1. Not wishing to tolerate defenses of bullying and abusive behaviors is the same as not wanting to have a ‘rational discussion.’
        2. Joe Davis is the sole arbiter of what is or is not rational.
        3. If I set up a blog with commenting rules and then someone comments on said blog in violation of those rules, I am somehow obligated to let their comments stand.
        4. If someone comments on my blog in violation of the rules, and I, you know, remove their commenting privileges here, I am the one bullying.
  3. Rob Pollak says:

    Wow, I sort of totally disagree with the characterization that BL is just yelling at fat people. Although I do think things like intense dehydration, starvation, etc are bad and shouldn’t be encouraged, that’s not what they show on the air. I’ve always felt that the show doesn’t yell at people for being fat, but yells at them for giving up, for not reaching the potential that they want to reach, and for quitting on themselves. The contestants don’t get bullied for being fat, but they are helped to find out the core reasons why they became obese and then find ways to attack those issues and find real change. Despite the over dramatization and the ridiculous weigh ins, the show can be really inspiring and motivating.

    • Tori says:

      Rob, do some research. I suggest starting here, here, and here.

    • Also see the unsubtly-titled On “The Biggest Loser”, Health Can Take a Back Seat. They may not show it on the air, but are you seriously arguing that it’s OK to get kids so dehydrated that they’re urinating blood as long as they don’t show that part on TV?

      • Tori says:

        Yay, more sources! Thank you!

      • Rob Pollak says:

        No! I never said anything close to that. I just said that a lot of the things portrayed on the show are actually very good. The dehydration and blood urination aren’t part of the show, they are part of the behind the scenes secrets. On the show, the trainers push the contestants to eat well, pay attention to calories, and consider the defense mechanisms they have set up that prevent them from achieving their goals. These are all very valid things.

        I think everything you have shared with me is fascinating and horrible. My eyes are now open. I still find the show incredibly inspiring and there have been times when it has motivated me to exercise or eat better when I was feeling like a lazy slug. That’s a good thing.

    • C.D. says:

      “I’ve always felt that the show doesn’t yell at people for being fat, but yells at them for giving up, for not reaching the potential that they want to reach, and for quitting on themselves. The contestants don’t get bullied for being fat, but they are helped to find out the core reasons why they became obese and then find ways to attack those issues and find real change.”

      There are two fundamental problems with this argument.

      1. Shaming people to make them lose weight does not work. And when I say it does not work, I mean that it backfires. People (especially kids) who are shamed or attacked about their weight tend to GAIN more weight. Whooooops. [http://kateharding.net/2007/10/02/special-delivery-from-the-duh-truck/]

      2. Diets don’t work. In somewhere around 95% of cases, dieters gain back all the weight they lost (and often more!) within five years. In spite of what the dieting industry, the media and The Biggest Loser tell us, no one knows how to make a fat person permanently thin, just like no one knows how to make a thin person permanently fat. So saying that these contestants “gave up” on losing weight? Is stupid. Because it’s not their fault they didn’t lose weight. They didn’t lose weight because it’s nearly impossible to achieve permanent weight loss. The game is rigged.

      http://kateharding.net/2007/10/29/reality-vs-relativism/

      http://kateharding.net/2007/04/12/diets-dont-work-but/

      http://kateharding.net/2009/02/26/all-diets-work-the-same-poorly/

      The good news is, this isn’t some kind of international catastrophe. Some people are fat. Some people are thin. Fat is not axiomatically unhealthy. Thin is not axiomatically healthy. The Biggest Loser, on the other hand, is a bad idea for everyone. http://kateharding.net/faq/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/

      • Rob Pollak says:

        I never said anything about diets or shaming. I also don’t appreciate being called stupid or skating on fucking thin ice for stating an opinion that differs from yours. I guess that’s why this blog needs a comment policy. One which I respected and was mindful of when I made sure that my comments respected your opinions and arguments

        • Tori says:

          And I don’t appreciate you coming to my blog in order to make misinformed comments in defense of a show that regularly engages in horrific fat-shaming, dietary, and exercise practices.

          Yes, this is precisely why I have a comment policy on my blog.

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