Best Standards and Practices, & The Biggest Loser

There’s been some controversy involving the latest winner of NBC’s The Biggest Loser show.  For those of you who regularly watch this train wreck, I’m sure you know who Rachel is.  For those of you who don’t, this is Rachel Fredrickson when she began the competition:


In this starting pic, Ms. Fredrickson weighed 260 pounds.

Thanks to a combination of diet, exercise, and likely a fair dose of body shaming thrown in for good measure, Ms. Fredrickson has lost approximately 59% of her total body weight, and now barely tips the scale at 105 pounds.  Here’s a pic from her appearance in the show finale.


Staggering weight loss, huh?  Well, this appearance has prompted many media outlets and bloggers to question several things, including whether Rachel Fredrickson has become anorexic, and that perhaps the show has take to extremes in an effort to keep its audience.

Let me start by saying that she doesn’t seem concerened.  In her words:  “I feel amazing. I feel truly alive and just transformed,” she told E! News at The Biggest Loser finale. “I couldn’t be more happy, more thankful to get this second chance to take charge of my life again.”

Here’s a video clip from the finale, and I have to admit that even the trainers look a bit surprised at her appearance.

So when someone loses 59% of their body weight, people are going to take notice.  As I said, the media has picked up the story, essentially sensationalizing what they are calling anorexic.  Check out some of these blogs and articles, a few come from some of my fellow size acceptance bloggers.

Even this winner from YouTube got in on it…

I’m going to take a different approach than some of my friends & colleagues in size acceptance, whose focus is more towards how this show maligns fat people, which is really what the size acceptance movement is all about, and has been, since the late 1960s, when the first “fat in” was staged in New York’s Central Park, and eventually became the group known as NAAFA.

Deeming Ms. Fredrickson as anorexic by simply looking at her is no different than when an average person looks at a fat person and assumes that they’re unhealthy.  Other than looking quite thin, she looked quite happy.  More important, we should take her at her word when she says she feels amazing.

It seems to me that she isn’t horribly thinner than Jillian Michaels, and I think they’re close in height, yet Michaels looked stunned when she saw Fredrickson.  So my question to those people that are horrified by her weight loss is, what is the parameters for what is considered healthy vs. what isn’t?  Isn’t that judging thin people in the same manner that fat people are judged?  Interestingly enough, no one from size acceptance has criticized how she looked, only the rest of world.

Seriously, I wish TV did not have a show called “The Biggest Loser”.  It concerns the hell out of me because of all the assumptions that it makes about fat people, including:

1.  They eat too much
2.  They don’t exercise enough
3.  They have no motivation
4.  They have no stamina
5.  They are emotionally week
6.  They have other physical issues that are the result of their being fat.

I have lots of friends who would be happy to show you how none of these are true for everyone.  With that said, the millions of people who watch this show end up also assuming the same thing about fat people.  However, looking at this season’s winner, and hearing a different type of body judgment about her seems just as wrong to me as the people who judge fat bodies.

Judge the show, not the people on it.



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