…that the show is degrading, demoralizing, and damaging.
Okay, so I’m being snarky with my tongue-in-cheek post title and I want to be clear how freaking brave I think Kai Hubbard truly is. The fact that she took a stand against what has become an (ironically) mammoth enterprise to share the gory details of her experience on the show is incredible.
What gets me is just how long it can take the world to catch on to things right before our eyes. And don’t worry – I 100% include myself in “the word.”
The Biggest Loser has been airing for over ten years, and in that time has produced not only an insanely popular television show, but a multi-million dollar brand selling the world the myth of speedy weight loss.
I’ll go right ahead and share that I watched the show with avid interest for it’s first two or three seasons. I had a weekly ritual of sitting down with a large bowl of ice cream to watch these contestants sweat it out. I wish I could tell you that I was analyzing the show for a media critique I was doing, but I was purely just fascinated at the time. The same fascination clearly shared by millions of viewers around the world.
Naive and intrigued, I believed that this show was changing these people’s lives for the better. The show pulled on my heartstrings and I shed tears multiple times each season. I felt for the contestants and was pulling for them every step of the way on their journey to a “healthier” lifestyle.
Ugh. I hate even writing that sentence now.
Even without the behind the scenes details that Kai and a few other contestants have revealed, there is plenty blatantly wrong with the show. There’s the fat-shaming “games,” the absurd amount of weight lost in a given week, and the idea of making one’s personal quest of health a contest in the first place. And then, of course, bringing kids into the mix.
And then we have what Kai shared. The New York Post reported that she told them, “The whole f- -king show is a fat-shaming disaster that I’m embarrassed to have participated in.” She dished on the trainers’ ruthless demands, exercise and malnutrition-related injuries, dangerous calorie restriction, and even hospitalizations.
So why has it taken the world so long to figure out what a train-wreck this show really is?
Perhaps it’s because it so neatly conforms to our the dream of our culture. The majority of our nation share concerns about weight and so relate in some way to the contestants. We watch as their pursue — and apparently achieve — the “ultimate” ideal: lose weight, renew health, and achieve happiness.
We get caught up in the fantasy and selectively ignore the red flags (and the tacky product placement) screaming at us.
Kai actually gave an intimate and ground-breaking interview to Golda Poretsky on the show’s failings almost five years ago. And yet here we are in 2015 “shocked” at the same details being shared.
And so the “Biggest” question becomes: When will we get it?
Hopefully before someone gets even more seriously injured or worse as a result of the show.