The Biggest Loser & Internet Vitriol

A few days ago, I posted #stopbiggestloser, my explanation of why I support Golda Poretsky’s Twitter campaign — which has since been joined by this petition, started by Ragen Chastain and Jeanette DePatie — to request that NBC keep teenage participants off of the next season of The Biggest Loser.

Since then, my notifications icon has been lighting up like an… I don’t know… figure out your own simile for something that lights up many times in rapid succession.

Most of them I have deemed not fit to print on my own online space. In fact, going one step further, I want to make clear that I am not referring to any comments or commenters that I’ve approved, even if I’ve disagreed with them while doing so. Rather, I’m referring to people who began not with disagreements — or even attacks — on my ideas but with attacks on my person.

There have been just over forty unique troll commenters, and they’ve all been supremely unimaginative. I mean, yes, there’s been some variation about the harm they intend to inflict on me or the harm they believe fate will inflict on me. But their reasons for such all fall into three main categories, none of which is particularly relevant to my original explanation.

Reason the First — My argument is invalid because I am ugly.

Which, I have been called ugly since before I started school. It has long ceased to make an impact on my psyche and has, in fact, become evidence to me that the caller has nothing relevant to say.

Because let’s face it — Whether it’s a good idea or not for The Biggest Loser to have teens on their next season, the relative worth of that idea does not change because I am pretty or because I am ugly.

So why make it, I have to ask? I can only assume it is to make me feel more insecure, less worthy. To make me question my right to have such an opinion against a show that promotes a narrow, stereotypical beauty ideal that does not reflect in my person.

Said argument is invalid.

Reason the second — My argument is invalid because I am a bitch.

Again, for the assclowning, cactusfucking love of the Baby Jesus pissing in my morning Cheerios, let us not believe that “bitch” is either the most creative cuss I’ve heard nor the worst name I’ve been called. Moreover, in a lot of society, “bitch” is code for a woman who is straightforward and unapologetic about holding and expressing opinions. Though callers often mean it as such, I don’t particularly consider it an insult.

Even if I did, name calling for my lack of apology regarding me opinion — or even the strident terms in which I expressed my opinion, though in the grand scheme of things, I don’t believe mine were particularly grating — does not begin to tackle the relative merit of the opinion itself.

Therefore, calling me a bitch to invalidate my argument is invalid.

So why ask it? To shame me for daring to possess an opinion?

Finally, my argument is invalid because I do not exercise.

Compared to measures of ugliness or bitchitude, both of which are highly open to interpretation, the fact of whether or not I exercise is considerably more objective. Which means it is considerably more open to being proven right or wrong.

And this argument is objectively wrong.

So why make it?

This one is more interesting to me.

One possibility is that they simply disbelieve — or do not value — any of the exercise I do, on account of I am still arguing that minors should not be placed in situations where they are expected to exercise until they vomit. Perhaps they straightforwardly believe that this is the amount and type of exercise I should be doing, as it produces weight loss at any cost — and fat people should be pursuing weight loss at any cost.

Another possibility is that they know full well that these endeavors are unhealthy but that they expect fat people to engage in them anyway — because they depend on fat hate — internal and external — to help them feel good about their own bodies. And so they gaslight in hopes that I’ll relegate my own estimation of my activity levels to “not enough,” as if I should place more stock in their derision than I do in my own experience. As if by doing so, I will judge my own argument unworthy.

Here’s the thing:

The Biggest Loser is a television show with a bad track record for healthy practices or care for its contestants. They’re now seeking to add adolescents — people whose bodies are still growing and developing and people who are generally not able to give their own legal or medical consent for most purposes — into the mix. Even if I am the ugliest, non-exercising-ist bitch on the face of the planet, that is a bad idea. And that argument is valid.


I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

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14 comments on “The Biggest Loser & Internet Vitriol
  1. My comment to anyone who uses “bitch” in that sense is basically this: I will respond in song.

    • Tori says:

      Always love that song. Especially the fact that when I play it (and, erm, sing along if no human is within earshot), my dog Casey gives me this look like, “And what is wrong with my attitude, exactly?” :D

      Also, appreciate that when I click on the Saffire link, YouTube also suggests this for me in the margin:

  2. gaayathri says:

    Could not agree more! I am sorry that you now have to deal with this awful douchcanoe of trolls.

  3. Caitlin says:

    Someone who had commented on that post emailed ME directly to make his case. I deleted it after I read the second sentence. Can’t even imagine what you had to deal with.

    I find it amazing that people will get so up in arms over critique of a fucking television show. It’s like they’ve taken it as a personal affront on their very existences. It’s just astonishing to me.

    • Tori says:

      Sorry troll trouble followed from here to you.

      I’m also noticing that the vast majority of people who defended the show — a show that does verbally and visually shame people — left comments that were in themselves attempting to shame. Gee, it’s not like a TV show could be rubbing off on them, is it? Or at least validating any pre-conceived ideas they had that this was okay?

  4. Sometimes people make me want to nuke the entire internet. It’s a _TV SHOW_. It’s not like you’re saying to kick puppies or something; you’re saying you disagree with the very unhealthy practices of a TV show that now wants to expose minors to it. FFS, people, take a deep breath and step away from the keyboard.

  5. C.D. says:

    Urgh. I’m so sorry about the trolls. I remember thinking that the thread on your post about the Biggest Loser was remarkably civilized… now I know why.

    • Tori says:

      Yeah, I put everything on full mod here. (As far as I can tell, there’s no way to “all clear” only select regular commenters — just anyone who’s commented once.) It’s not worth it to me (particularly in terms of managing anxiety) to engage with people who have no kind or genuine motive for commenting.

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