As if on cue, NBC's The Biggest Loser premiered the same day the JAMA study was released. Already known for promoting dangerous weight-loss tactics under the banner of "health," the latest season comes with a fat-shaming twist: kids.
When Ragen Chastain learned that Michelle Obama was appearing on The Biggest Loser to promote the show's contestants as role models, she felt she had to do something. " I e-mailed my friend Darryl Roberts, filmmaker of America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments. We wrote a well-researched article pointing out the problems with Mrs. Obama endorsing the contestants as role models," she says on her blog, Dances With Fat. She continues:
It wasn't meant for this blog, but it's now been turned down by three major media outlets. Not because they disagreed with us, in fact all three said that they agreed with the article. It was denied in all three cases because the White House wouldn't like it, they were worried about damaging their working relationship with the White House, and it it made the First Lady look bad and out of touch.
Last year, Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels got into some natalist hot water when, in an interview with Women's Health, she was quoted out of context when she said, "I'm going to adopt. I can't handle doing that to my body. Also, when you rescue something, it's like rescuing a part of yourself." As it turns out, Michaels has endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — conditions that have already been mentioned here in the comments as a reason that some women choose not to have biological children.
Not only does this show perpetuate the popular "fat equals unhealthy" with its unspoken corollary "therefore, thin equals healthy," it also overtly coaches its participants to engage in what Kate Harding so aptly called "the fantasy of being thin." And then there's the vomiting and dehydration. That's healthy, right?