Operation Skinny Jeans: The talk of the town

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The talk of the town

I am all about a bandwagon, and after last night's Biggest Loser Finale, everyone is talking about one thing. So I am gonna talk about it too!
I have been watching the Biggest Loser for YEARS. Probably since its been on tv. And here's a fun fact, I almost auditioned for the show many times, most seriously when auditions were in Denver a few years ago.

Anyhoo, I am a fan of the show. I love how they use nutrition and exercise to change people's bodies, veritably PROVING that bariatric surgery or diet pills are not necessary to achieve large scale weight loss. I am often inspired by different people on the show, and I always identify with one of them. Last season, that was Danni. She was like my spirit animal. I felt what she felt and was empowered by her success.

She worked so hard and was so genuine, I really saw that same spirit in myself. 

This year, that person was Rachel. Her spirit shone through, and I totally identified to her story of losing yourself in binge eating. I pulled for her through the entire season, which is rare because I am team Jillian all the way, and usually don't pick anyone NOT on her team. Anyhoo, I have the episode recorded and I plan on watching it tomorrow, but if you exist on the internet, you know the outcome, and her final weight. 

This is where I get disappointed. But not in Rachel, but in the show. The entire premise of The Biggest Loser is the person who loses the highest percentage of their starting weight wins $250,000. First- that is a shit ton of money, which equals a shit ton of pressure. And as a woman facing up against two BIG men, you can't even image the pressure she must have felt. She was the "biggest loser" the ENTIRE season on the ranch, as well as winning multiple competitions. She is a competitor, and a serious one at that, being a former almost Olympic swimmer. She knew that if she wanted to WIN, she would have to lose a shit ton of weight. 

Biggest loser, at it's core, is a game of numbers. The more you have to lose, the more likely you are to win. So it stands to reason that if you are so close to winning, but have two men with more weight to lose than you on your tail, that you go drastic. I mean "reason" is a really lose term, but in the confines of the competition and the immense amount of pressure and money involved, that was obviously "reason" enough. 

In the end, I think the competition did not do right by Rachel. I am not sure how she managed to drop down to that number, but I really really hope that it was through healthy diet and exercise, not starvation and binge workouts. 

I don't think we, as laypeople, can say that Rachel is unhealthy at 105 lbs. It is certainly past the low end of the healthy weight range, but that doesn't mean that she isn't healthy.. And I think making generalizations about her health is in bad taste. And I think calling her "too skinny" is in bad taste too. 

(Enter soapbox)

We as women are criticized SO MUCH over our weight/size. We are either too fat or too skinny, or too muscular or too lean. People RARELY describe a woman's body as "perfect" or "healthy", it is always one extreme or another. We live in this culture where true "body perfection" doesn't exist, which is stupid. Rachel overcame (or is in the process of overcoming) an eating disorder. She has been through a lot mentally and I think we need to step away from our hateful font keyboards for a minute. Imagine you are this woman who struggled with binge eating for YEARS and an amazing thing happened to you, getting on the Biggest Loser, which changes your life, then in turn pressure to win overcomes you, throwing you right back into a bad place mentally. The LAST thing she needs is for anonymous strangers that used to call her "Too fat" to now be calling her "too skinny".


My point is in a competition where numbers are king, how are we to blame a woman who wants to win for doing what she had to do to do so?


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  1. I could not disagree with you more! RACHEL chose to 'game the system.' She did it for money. She chose the path to the money, not good health or her own welfare. She was home alone for a couple of months, and chose to throw caution to the wind and do whatever it took to win the MONEY.

    Should TBL change the system? Put a cap on the weight loss in some way? Absolutely. But make no mistake; Rachel isn't the victim. She was money hungry and did what she had to, to win the MONEY. I hold her completely accountable.

  2. I agree with being too quick to judge. I think the concerning thing here is how low of a BMI she is at. She just doesn't look healthy in her face. Now, don't get me wrong - the BMI system is completely outdated. But, it was clear that Bob and Jillian - health professionals - were both very concerned from the second she stepped out. What I hope Biggest Loser does, is add some type of clause about the person with the lowest percentage of weight loss wins WITHOUT going below a healthy BMI or something to that effect. She may have a problem, or she may have taken drastic measures before the finale, but either way - it wasn't a healthy at home loss....

  3. I agree wholeheartedly, but from this season I hope TBL does look at their 'program' and perhaps put new parameters in place.
    Maybe being 'underweight' would be a disqualifier?

    But for now, it was a competition and she won by any means necessary (whatever they were).

  4. loooooove this post! I never got into watching this show, but I'm not sure why because I know I would relate to it.

  5. I know what you are saying in that it is just as wrong to say cruel things about a person looking "too skinny" as it is to say that they are "too fat." Words do hurt and we cannot judge unless we are in a person's shoes. However, when I look at her, I don't feel like I am being judgmental when I look at her and think that she looks unhealthy. I actually feel more concern. There are plenty of women who have won Biggest Loser and have not had to go to that extreme...Danni being one of them. I respect your opinion and I understand what you are saying about society's unfair judgments, but when I look at Rachel, I am not inspired...I am worried about her. These feelings do not come out of a malicious place where I am jealous or envious, I just cannot help but wonder if maybe the pressure took her a bit too far. I wish her the best and hope that she lives a healthy and happy life.

  6. Amen. I couldn't have said that better. I watched The Biggest Loser all season but I haven't watched the finale episode yet, so I am just seeing the pictures people have posted online today. 105 is really small. Really small. But at least she still seems to have some muscle tone in her legs. That is good. I just know there was SO much pressure on her being as small as she was compared to the other guys. And that is a LOT of money that can change someone's life. I'm interested to see if there are any follow ups to the show or guest appearances on talk shows or something to address the talk.

  7. A prior poster said the same thing, I feel: I don't think she's too skinny, I think she looks unhealthy. I feel the same way about a lot of actresses in Hollywood who are so gaunt looking that it worries me. She looks like those women and that WORRIES me, not repulses me. It's not that I find it visually unappealing it's that she looks unhealthy. She went from one extreme to another.

    I really, really, really hope she does not have an eating disorder. I hope she is able to maintain a healthy weight while maintaining a normal lifestyle (as in, no longer on the ranch, working, etc). That's my problem with the show. These people are on a game show to lose weight. Their job is to lose weight. So they go on the show and workout for hours at a time and eat what is provided for them and then are sent back into the world and expected to adapt on their own. Honestly, I don't know if this happens or not, but do they get help once they're off the ranch and back in real life? I read a different post where someone said they would much rather watch a show about a person trying to lose weight under everyday circumstances, as in working eight hours a day the coming home and trying to workout, or a person with kids, or a couple trying to maintain a house. That is way more interesting to me than TBL and I feel I could gain so much more from that.

  8. Most of the winners have regained some weight - I agree that it is high pressure for the finale, and it's a lot of money to not try everything you can to win! I remember season 7 winner Helen looking gaunt when she headed out on stage and she looks healthier now...I think we all just need to let her enjoy her win. TBL don't just disappear from the contestants lives - she has been under medical supervision too. Who are we to sit and criticize from behind out computers? http://healthyeater.com/biggest-loser-then-now

  9. I agree that we shouldn't judge because we don't know what the other person has been through. But, I do think she looks unhealthy and in all honesty when she stepped out ai was a little repulsed because of it. I really do hope she's ok!

  10. LAWD. I'm soooooooooo behind this season. #thankskids so I didn't see yet. After I read your post I went and did some googling to see Jillian and Bob's reactions. Holy crap.

    I agree with April, maybe the show should put some parameters in place to stop the competition from getting to an unhealthy point. Have mercy!

  11. p.s. dying at Danni being your "spirit animal." I loved her too!!! ;)

  12. I actually cringed when she stepped on stage. I get that some people are that naturally thing but she looked so unhealthy. I really really hope she did it to win the game and will get healthy again now that its over!

  13. I haven't watched the finally yet but HOLY crap she weighs 105 pounds! I think you are right on with this post Jess. She is way too skinny but dang it if she didn't deserve to win. She was a fierce competitor ALL SEASON LONG!!

  14. I totally see what you're saying. I get that it's about the money...I HOPE that's what it was about for her and why she got all the way down to 105. And I agree with you about her not needing to hear that she's too skinny after years of being told she's too fat. I just...I think about if I had girls and how I would feel about them watching that show last night, and the message that sends...I don't like it. I don't know anything about Rachel personally and I wish her well...I just think the show went way too far this time. But guess what? We are all talking about it which is really what they're after I guess.

  15. You are so right, girl! I just finished watching the episode and you best believe I'm preaching about it in tomorrow's blog post. I think NBC is really the problem as I'm sure they kept pushing her and checking in to make sure she had enough of a "drastic" transformation. Anything for ratings, right?

    If I had $250,000 on the line, I am not ashamed to admit that I'd push my limits in weight loss. Hopefully she gets on a healthy path now and can really take charge of her life!

  16. I have fallen away from watching the biggest loser over the past couple of seasons (one its on wayyyyy past my bedtime) for the reason that it seems to be more about "winning the money". I think it is an amazing show that has helped and inspired many people. I definitely DO NOT THINK that anyone should judge her. she has fought hard to get to where she is. And I wish that the labels of too fat, too thin, too muscles, whatever would just eff off. My heart aches for her for what she must have seen and felt when she opened the internet this morning and seen so much "body shaming" going around about her after busting her ass to beat the men :(

  17. I'm guessing she'll probably put back on ten pounds or so, but I don't think she looks "too skinny"! Look at how toned her legs are in that top picture! And that being said, if she's petite, being that low isn't as shocking as it sounds! I'm not of her height but if it's 5-5'3 I don't think that she's gone way overboard!

  18. I think its a shame that the way BL is done is that she needed to go that low in weight to win. There needs to be some kind of rules around reaching your goal weight or a "healthy weight" however they decide that is put into place I dont know. But it just shows that it was about the money in the end not her overall health. and that is what people are judging her for.

  19. I could not agree with you more and I am glad to see that you have decided to not join the majority and call Rachel names or say that she is anorexic. What is being done to her is no different than fat shaming.

  20. Nicely stated Jess .. Name calling is always hurtful and screws with ones sense of self. Concern for someone's health can be stated, but there's no reason for it to not be presented as a concern and NOT as a criticism. Just my 2cents ;)

  21. Nicely stated Jess...name calling is still name calling, no matter the intent, .name calling always screws with ones sense of self.. Stating concern does not have to be presented as a criticism. Just my 2 cents ;)


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