Quick Hit: Me on NYT on “The Biggest Loser”

I wrote about Alessandra Stanley’s recent NYT piece on weight loss shows over at Broadsheet today. As always, Sanity Watchers warning x 10,000 applies to comments there (and there aren’t even any yet). Feel free to discuss here, though.

Posted in Fat

86 thoughts on “Quick Hit: Me on NYT on “The Biggest Loser”

  1. While designers may now be making more size 0′s, I’ve been doing some (not tremendously rigorous) tracking of the sizing charts of a number of nationwide retailers over the last five years and, actually, the sizes themselves keep getting bigger. I’ve tracked sizes 12, 14 and 16, and while some retailers have maintained a similar sizing since 2003, most have not. I’ll give one example here:

    Old Navy, Size 14

    Bust: 40 (as of Oct 03); 40½ (as of Oct 06)
    Waist: 32 (as of Oct 03); 32½ (as of Nov 04); 33 (as of Sep 07)
    Hip: 43 (as of Oct 03); 43½ (as of Sep 07)

    Moreover, as of July 2008, I noticed that Old Navy actually publishes an entirely different set of sizing for their jeans. For size 14, that’s waist: 34; hip: 44.

    I know that the charts are just averages and a half-inch may not seem much, but this is what I have seen over and over again–the manufacturers are actually reporting that they are enlarging their sizes.

    I’d love to hear what the Shapelings think of this (Don’t get too upset about my lack of scientific rigor, though, I know a lot of you are scientists. I just looked in from time to time and noticed a trend.)

  2. Damn, only four comments when I read your post at Broadsheet, and all four managed to piss me off! That place really is a cesspool, commentary-wise.

    The NYT piece crept up my nose (“unimaginably large,” my ass…I mean, literally, I don’t have to imagine my “unimaginably large” ass, it’s pretty fucking real, thanks!), and yet there were a couple good thoughts in there with the dreck.

    I missed a lot of them among all the “alarmingly overweight” and “human blobs” and “marooned” and “swaddled” rhetoric. I mean, her language was pretty disgusting to me (or maybe just disgusted?). This felt like a “you’re okay if you’re a little bit fat, but those poor fuckers who are *really* fat…tsk, tsk, so unhealthy.”

    I guess the usual bit about baby steps applies, though.

  3. It’s funny how different people can take away different things from the same article…I actually read that as a fairly sympathetic article. I almost kept expecting her to mention at the end that she was plus-sized, herself.

    Perhaps, however, this is just a reaction to regularly reading things that are unsympathetic to the EXTREME, though.

  4. I don’t know, I didn’t seem to retain any particular point from the original NYT article.

    Except, of course, one that she didn’t actually make: that shows like The Biggest Loser serve to support stereotypes about fat people (uncontrolled eating, for example) that, if they’re not busy starving themselves, don’t really apply. (I mean, of course you raid the fridge if you’re hungry in the night! If you starve yourself during the day, you stay hungry! If you have foods that are “forbidden” to you, of course that’s what you crave! I did that shit when I was 8 years old and a beanpole, and felt guilty about it!)

    I didn’t really get worked up about the comments on your piece though, Kate. Not really sure why. Maybe it’s like Simply Mac said: I’m just used to more obvious vitriol.

  5. Yeah, I’ll own that I’m probably easier to piss off in this context because I fall into the demographic that’s really being freakified by the NYT article, bellyrolls and arm waddles and all. It would be less frustrating if it didn’t draw a line between normal fat and abnormal fat….especially since in that framework, I’m one of the “clumsy and vulnerable” freaks.

  6. First time I actually post here, but been lurking for a while :-)

    I read the article and I’m confused about what her standpoint is. At one side she gives some sort of ‘support’ to plus size by being somewhat critical to the tv shows. But at the same time she uses ‘heavy’ language about those who are bigger than the average American. So unless she’s trying to be sarcastic (and failing completely), then all I can do is sit scratching my head at her article. Mind you, it could be something cultural I don’t get since I’m Scandinavian.

  7. That makes sense, Tari, as I’m still on the borderline-socially-acceptable end of fat. The fat shaming I’ve experienced hasn’t gone past the level of concern trolling.

  8. I didn’t seem to retain any particular point from the original NYT article.

    Me neither, which made it hard to write about. (Also, keeping it under 400 wds meant really narrowing down a lot of what I wanted to say.)

    It would be less frustrating if it didn’t draw a line between normal fat and abnormal fat

    No kidding. To me, the subtext of the whole thing was, “I’m working out my own body image issues and mostly trying not to sound like an asshole, but my issues run so deep I can’t tell when I do.” I don’t know what the fucking point was, and the whole thing just made HER sound deeply conflicted, while she was talking about how deeply conflicted “society” is.

  9. Is it just me, or does it seem normal fat for the media stops at 299 lbs? Once you’ve reached 300 (and I am slightly over that), you are ZOMG YOU’RE GONNA DIE/ NOW THAT IS GROSS/YOUARE CONFINED TO YOUR BED FAT!!! and there’s no hope for you. I have seen plenty of comments at fat-hating sites like TMZ, Perez, The Superficial, etc. that seem to support this mindset of 300 lbs being this demonic number. Unfortunately for them, the Tubular Bells does not start playing when I step outside on the street or in a room. For the most part, strangers treat me like any other person doing their thing, and not ZOMG LOOK AT HER!!! SHE WEIGHS 300 LBS!!!!!

  10. Have you noticed that in nearly every article like this the undertone is that the author is not part of the fat community, doesn’t know anyone in the fat community, and will never have anything to do with the fat community – those (poor) freakish bastards.

  11. Also all the synonyms for “fat” grated on me. Dear journalists: If you have to resort to “corpulence” or “avoirdupois”, do us all a favor and write “fat” instead. Your thesaurus (and probably several of your readers) will thank you.

  12. The only thing which remained for me was “The lonely, self-hating journey of weight loss” . I don’t want to seem tooooooo grateful, but acknowledging that dieting is miserable as sin in a mainstream outlet is worth something to me.

    h.x

  13. Have you noticed that in nearly every article like this the undertone is that the author is not part of the fat community, doesn’t know anyone in the fat community, and will never have anything to do with the fat community – those (poor) freakish bastards.

    Yes. I mean, she has this weird throwaway line about how “corpulence” (see Maewyn’s comment above) is something we all deal with eventually — um, really? — but then there’s the “unimaginably large” line. That just made my jaw fucking drop. Have you really never seen or spoken to a very fat person in real life? And even if you haven’t, can you really not imagine one?

    My guess is, she sizes up everyone else in relation to herself, and she is small enough that being that fat seems (and probably is) a very remote possibility — but so does being as thin as the average TV star, hence the whole fucking wank about contradictions. I DON’T KNOW IF IT’S OKAY TO LOOK THE WAY I DO, BECAUSE TV WON’T GIVE ME A STRAIGHT ANSWER! Meanwhile, she comes off sounding like TV networks must beam people above the normal-fat line in her head down from a different fucking planet for reality shows.

  14. Unfortunately for them, the Tubular Bells does not start playing when I step outside on the street or in a room.

    Ha ha! “Ma’am, we’re going to need to call in a young priest and an old priest to lol your fat… “

  15. Stanley characterizes the audience as ‘looking on with repulsion or empathy, and sometimes both’ — and it seems to me that it’s herself she means. And her empathy seems to stop somewhere in the false distinction she makes between ‘[r]eal women … between size 12 and 14′ and those who’ve ‘fall[en] … into the potato chip abyss,’ the ‘dramatically obese.’

    On the whole, she may’ve taken some baby steps, but she’s still in negative territory. And in a way, this kind of shit bugs me more than the hate-fests, because those are instantly recognizeable to anyone — while the seemingly reasonable tone of this, disguises its distortions and falsehoods.

  16. Man, I totally wish that Tubular Bells played when I walked outside my house. It would imbue all my boring daily doings with such sinister importance. I really think I’d be overall more productive!

  17. One day when we’re all using wearable networking technology a la Verner Vinge’s Rainbow’s End (or, since I’m making oblique Satan references anyway, we all get those chip implants) we’ll be able to beam our theme music at the general public, like living MySpace pages.

    Now that I type that out, it actually sounds kind of awful.

  18. Tari wrote: ”unimaginably large,” my ass…I mean, literally, I don’t have to imagine my “unimaginably large” ass, it’s pretty fucking real, thanks!

    I am thinking of starting a blog on what it’s like to live around 400lbs. So many people tend to assume someone of my weight can’t walk, can’t fit in a car, eats 10,000 calories a day, and so on…might burst a few bubbles.

  19. Ha ha! “Ma’am, we’re going to need to call in a young priest and an old priest to lol your fat… “

    If there were a comment of the day, you would have just been awarded it. (With points to Bree for the “Tubular Bells” reference in the first place.)

  20. OTM – *snort*

    I think I’d go for the Star Wars ‘Imperial March,’ myself.

    On an actually related note – yes, 1000 time yes – worst writing ever (from NYT, not you, Kate).

    There is indeed a tremendous amount of privilege speaking, but also a whole lot of appeasement – as in, it seems like the author was trying not to offend actual fat people, but knows that she’ll be in for some massive trolling if she doesn’t put some fat-hate rhetoric in there.

    Oh, NYT – I think I might have to suspend my email subscription.

  21. Have you really never seen or spoken to a very fat person in real life? And even if you haven’t, can you really not imagine one?

    As with so many attempts to address weight in the mainstream media, this piece seems to have been be solely written for the consideration of slender people similarly lacking in imagination. I see this all the time. It never seems to occur to these dimwitted hacks that any actual fat people might be reading what they write or listening to what they have to say. They’re so busy digging up fleshy adjectives to describe what they patently view as some distant subspecies they have no clue how blinkered and patronising they come across.

  22. I really think I’d be overall more productive!

    Tubular bells would beat hell out of any “employee wellness” program.

  23. atition, I’ve noticed that sizes keep getting bigger too. I have jeans I bought at least years ago in a 16 that fit. I bought a similar style in the same brand recently in a 14 that also fit. If I lay the 14 on top of the 16, they’re about the same size.

  24. It never seems to occur to these dimwitted hacks that any actual fat people might be reading what they write or listening to what they have to say.

    How could we possibly have time to read a newspaper when we’re busy trying to pull the Cool-Whipe containers off our heads?

  25. Oh, since it came up again — atiton, I was actually referring to her referring to the advent of size 0. Except that’s actually an old size 2 (and an even older size 4), b/c as you point out, bigger garments are indeed corresponding to lower numbers.

  26. Kate…yeah, I understood that. I guess I thought I wasn’t derailing the thread insofar as the original author talked about sizes as if they actually *meant* something. Size 0, I’m afraid, has become a “status” thing. That, and the notion of, “I’ve fit into the same size since I was 21″ which continues to take on meaning for people when it’s basically completely meaningless on all sorts of levels.

    And, in the end, I don’t even know how to interpret my own data. Is it that the stores know that you’ll come back and shop if you see your size staying constant or (joy of joys :{) going down? Thinking of such a thing gives me all sorts of stabby pains.

  27. JenK:

    I am thinking of starting a blog on what it’s like to live around 400lbs. So many people tend to assume someone of my weight can’t walk, can’t fit in a car, eats 10,000 calories a day, and so on…might burst a few bubbles.

    Sounds great! Edumacate the masses about your realities not their imagined ‘horrors’.

  28. Personally, I’d want the old school Doctor Who theme to play whenever I stepped outside or into a room. The opening notes of woo-wee-woo! fit me perfectly. And like the Care Bears (the chubby cute Care Bears, not these size 0 hottie bears they’re trying to pass off now) I would project the music from my stomach.

  29. “Ma’am, we’re going to need to call in a young priest and an old priest to lol your fat…”

    Bree’s introduction of Tubular Bells made me laugh, and then this followed it up by making me *guffaw*. Seriously, the room echoed with it. Thanks! That was just what I needed today.

  30. Ha ha! “Ma’am, we’re going to need to call in a young priest and an old priest to lol your fat… “

    OTM, brilliant. I laughed my unimaginably large ass off.

    “the ‘dramatically obese.’” Hell. I’m MELODRAMATICALLY obese. WTF does that even mean? Being fat and spouting shakespeare?

    And I want my entry/theme music to be Beethoven’s 9th. Vary the movement according to my mood.

    “They’re so busy digging up fleshy adjectives to describe what they patently view as some distant subspecies they have no clue how blinkered and patronising they come across.”

    Buffpuff, you hit the nail on the proverbial head there. Fatties from another planet. I also think there’s an official list of adjectives to use for fat people, we see the same damn ones so often. Where’s the creativity?

  31. (This is Kate, posting from Al’s computer and too lazy to change sign-in info.)

    I thought I wasn’t derailing the thread

    You weren’t! Sorry if I implied that! Just wanted to make sure you were clear on what I meant.

  32. Lise you’re right on, you’re not missing anything. It’s become so commonplace for the media to give a voice to these blatant hypocrites, that it is barely shocking anymore.

    It’s like giving editorials to adults with the mindsets of schoolyard bullies. “But but, I did sympathize with you, I was nice..I was understanding..why are you picking on meeeee!” Typical behaviour of bullies, if they’re not putting down someone to bring themselves up, they’re playing the victim when caught in a self-serving lie.

  33. On Sunday, I started reading this article with the usual stomach-on-the-floor dread. Oh no, some twit decided it was time to visit the Fat People Zoo Exhibit again.

    With expectations so drastically low, this article actually wasn’t quite that terrible. Like you said, if nothing else, this redeems it just a smidge: “The lonely, self-hating journey of weight loss.” The obvious secret that nobody ever talks about. If you’re starving yourself to drop weight, you’re knee deep in self-loathing. There’s nothing cute or life-affirming about it. We all know it, but how many people out there in the non-FA world admit it?

  34. Alessandra Stanley is famous for writing shoddily-researched, vapid, and Just Plain Wrong pieces. Seriously, one of the media gossip blogs (Gawker, maybe?) has a standing tag for “Alessandra Stanley gets it wrong again.”

    Having met her myself a few times, I would say that she looks to me like she probably buys clothing in US sizes 8-12 or so, if that helps to give anyone an idea of her own perspective on this stuff.

  35. With expectations so drastically low, this article actually wasn’t quite that terrible.

    Right. The bar is lying on the ground, but she did clear it.

  36. In response to atiton (the first comment post), I just want to say that in my experience Old Navy has extremely bad quality control. As in, I have never been able to try on a pair of trousers or jeans that fit, go immediately back to the shelves and grab another of the same style that’s tagged the same size, and walk out of the store with 2 pairs of pants that fit. Invariably, the pair I didn’t try on never ever ever fit properly.

    So I’m not sure how much creedence I’d put in changes of 1/2 an inch, because in my experience their clothes vary by that much just as a matter of course because their QC is bad/nonexistent.

  37. Oh no, some twit decided it was time to visit the Fat People Zoo Exhibit again.

    Ha! Exactly.

    Also, Buttercup, “Melodramatically obese” might have to be the next tag line.

  38. Bree, thank you.

    Because really, we don’t even need trolls to visit when they publish in the newspapers and we can mock them at a distance.

    And I think putting together a great fat soundtrack is the best possible way.

    I just had my very first FA post-induced “concern troll” who ended our exchange by (surprise!) telling me I was going to die. So I hereby cue “Carmina Burana,” because it’s terribly trite but still sorta scary.

  39. I just had my very first FA post-induced “concern troll” who ended our exchange by (surprise!) telling me I was going to die.

    OMG! So am I!

    Oh, wait, so is everyone else, no matter what their size or body composition.

  40. And I was thinking of Reference Tone above; their tag for Stanley is “Wrongest Critic in the World.” Gawker also follows Stanley’s madcap error-prone hijinks, though.

  41. Can I just say that having Shapelings take on these sorts of things is just the antidote I need to keep my sanity? Between the tubular bells and the loling of my fat, I just can’t stay upset.

    Thank you, Shapelings!!!

  42. …I would say that she looks to me like she probably buys clothing in US sizes 8-12 or so, if that helps to give anyone an idea of her own perspective on this stuff.

    Actually, it doesn’t really help me understand at all.

  43. Tari: Damn, only four comments when I read your post at Broadsheet, and all four managed to piss me off! That place really is a cesspool, commentary-wise

    Yes, Tari, oh RUPERT. Thanks for NOTHING.

    ugh.

  44. ooh, now I’m logged in as Lovely Lentilla.

    I think (this is in response to the concern troll of JupiterPluvius who faultlessly noted that she is going to die…) that a lot of the sting of what I feel – the shock I feel when otherwise kind and compassionate people say such stupid and callous things about fat and fat people – i think that when it comes like that from people who are in general kind and sensible, it’s clear to me that it’s coming from a deep fear of death.
    I’ve also noticed a similarity with vegetarian and vegan friends that some of them are in a kind of rebellion in relation to death. And it can also lead to crazy behaviour that shocks because it comes from otherwise kind and compassionate people.
    By blaming the victim people protect their illusion of control.

  45. OTM and Bree – I just lol’d ALL my fat with your comments! From now on, as I leave my house (gasp! can a woman over 300#s even canoodle herself out of bed?!?!) I will forever have the theme from the Exorcist in my head TYVM! Although it will begin with the resounding kettle drums and trumpets from the Olympics theme..then softly twinkle into Tubular Bells as I melodramatically obesely slither my way around town shooting Carrie like head/eye jerks towards people casting their condescending judgements upon me-causing cars to veer onto the sidewalk to hit them and roofs to cave in on top of them. At least there will be delightful music in my head!

    Thanx for the best chuckle I’ve had since having my appendix out last week. (ZOMG! that fat woman survived emergency surgery?!?!?! And didn’t have to use the Andre the Giant sized laproscope tools?!?!?!)

  46. I read the nytimes every day and that article was complete shit. Was the fucking editor on vacation or what?

    Fat as Entertainment. Fat Brides, Fat kids, Fat Fat Fat. people all for your viewing pleasure. It almost seemed like a PR piece for the networks. Tune it for your daily Fatz entertainment.

    you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be repulsed, tune in to watch fatty 2 by 4 squeeze into her wedding dress, thrills every minute, oh wait, maybe we should accept fat people for who they are……

    WTF??? I think the person who suggested this woman was trying to reach deadline got it right, but still, they didn’t have to publish it. Pointless.

  47. Damn! I was going to bagsy Carmina Burana, but Miriam beat me to it. Ah well there’s always Thus Spake Zarathustra or Night On A Bald Mountain. Oooh – and who wants to be Operatically Obese?

  48. Argh, I forgot to say, this all reminds me of when I used to sing constantly as I walked too and from campus… one campus it tended to be things like Joni Mitchell (“Blue” “Green” –ok, pretty much all of the songs from the album “Blue”, and of course Twisted) Holly Near (“Harriet Tubman” “Two Good Hands” “A Perfect Night”) and “You’re so Vain”, and the other campus it tended to be going through the score of Pirates of Penzance.

  49. Only nine comments and this appears:

    “Being a body (read fat) acceptance activist is sort of like being a cancer acceptance activist. Eat less and excercise more.”

    I suppose I should thank him/her for putting so concisely what the next three hundred comments are going to say. Now I have even less reason to read them!

  50. It’s like my mom was saying the other day, “Just when you think people couldn’t be anymore stupid, they surprise you.” Actually, I think she was repeating something I might’ve said a long time ago, when I was depressed and even more sarcastic than I am now.

  51. So we have dramatically obese, melodramatically obese, and operatically obese. In keeping with the whole Tubular Bells theme, I’m going to be demonically obese. I will spew split pea soup at trolls, stab myself repeatedly in the happy place with the end of an ice cream cone, shout out loud in an evil voice “Your mother sucks Weight Watchers fudgecicles in hell!” and use my supernatural Beezlebub powers to hurl tubs of lard at anyone who defies me. You know, stuff I do already, but this time with the power of the hellbeast.

  52. Yeah, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Broadsheet trolls are special.

    this is in response to the concern troll of JupiterPluvius

    I haven’t had my coffee yet, and I read that and went, “WTF? JupiterPluvius isn’t a concern troll!” I was gearing up to give you the old snark ‘n’ ban, but then I read the rest of the comment and realized what you meant.

    Now I can see how Spudsy accidentally banned Broce the other day. Damn. Caffeine is fundamental.

  53. “Being a body (read fat) acceptance activist is sort of like being a cancer acceptance activist. Eat less and excercise more.”

    Nice. Because cancer is a) a snap to fix! and b) the patient’s fault. Seriously, learn to logic already, Broadsheet trolls! You’re even more pathetic than SP trolls!

  54. Bree, do you have a blog so I can go over there and haunt you in a demonic-fangirl way?

    Because your brain is so hawt it makes my head spin.

  55. I’m going to be demonically obese. I will spew split pea soup at trolls, stab myself repeatedly in the happy place with the end of an ice cream cone, shout out loud in an evil voice “Your mother sucks Weight Watchers fudgecicles in hell!” and use my supernatural Beezlebub powers to hurl tubs of lard at anyone who defies me. You know, stuff I do already, but this time with the power of the hellbeast.

    Okay, I haven’t even SEEN “The Exorcist,” and I am dying laughing here. Brill.

  56. “Man, I totally wish that Tubular Bells played when I walked outside my house. It would imbue all my boring daily doings with such sinister importance. I really think I’d be overall more productive!”

    And this is why I’ve had Tubular Bells as my ringtone for 8 years.

  57. I’m with Bree. Melodramatically obese and operatically obese sound like fun, but I think that demonically obese is where it’s at. I snorfed my tea at the “Your mother sucks Weight Watchers fudgecicles in hell!” part.

  58. Ok, if we’re going operatically obese, I claim Ride of the Valkyries.

    So sayeth Ashley, who’s currently on a gigantic Wagner kick.

  59. re: valkyries

    “we ride through the night skies
    flashing our big thighs
    picking up dead guys.
    You call this a job?
    Yo oh ho OH, yo oh ho OH” etc.

  60. It’s great that along side your commentary on Salon.com was the following add:

    I Lost 8 Pounds in 7 Days
    And I Didn’t Change What I Eat. Acai Berry Burns Those Calories.
    TheAcaiBerryTruth.com

  61. JenK – I would totally read your blog and would provide my own 350 lb perspective too if you’d like.

    Another thing I’ve noticed: the fatter one is the stupider one is presumed to be. That’s why I don’t think people think that the operatically obese will read their comments or hear their comments (’cause we’re deaf too.) It is presumed that one cannot be fat (especially melodramatically obese) and smart or have any sort of talent or athletic ability. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here but it just struck me and was today’s “things that piss me off.”

  62. If you can do the electric slide, booty call, cha-cha slide, or any of those line dances without looking like Godzilla advancing on Tokyo, you have talent and athletic ability. I have seen thin people, people who most would think could do this and look good, not do it well, and I’ve seen big people like myself, who can get down and groove with the best of them. Chunky don’t mean clunky.

    To Miriam and my future fangirls: I don’t have a blog. People tell me I should have one. I’ve resisted because my life is too boring to warrant a blog, and because the Internet unfortunately is full of jackasses with big mouths.

  63. Bean – I’ve noticed a trend towards the middle in brain/size assumptions. The skinny and beautiful are assumed to be airheads, while the fat are assumed to be dumb. Only the skinny but unattractive, or the stocky/muscular but not very overweight varieties seem to be allowed any possibility of brains.

  64. Ya know another thing I’ve noticed about the concern trolls when they’re saying we’re all gonna die is how _gleeful_ they are about it. Funny, when I’m genuinely concerned about something, I’m not very gleeful, but maybe that’s just me.

  65. Y’all have reminded me of my lifelong fantasy of having the Wicked Witch of the West theme music play wherever I go. Someday… someday….

  66. About Broadsheet trolls: I didn’t realize you can see all their comments, ever. I guess I usually don’t even click through to comments at all (SW points miser that I am – saving them all up for bad TV later! Much more fun…). How fun is it to see how fat concern trolls have so many other concerns. I read one from Bentia–of the sentiment that BUT BUT MORBIDLY OBESE IS REALLY REALLY BAD–and his/her other comments are equally golden, comically. I like just reading the headline given to the comments. Like “I’ll Damn Well Wave My Flag Whenever I Want.” Wow. DEEP.

    Okay, back to ignoring the trolls.

    And I am lolling my fat all over the place over here, which is great since it was a sad day (very sweet coworker’s last day, and she’s moving away…blub).

  67. Oh wait, must quote one more comment-title from that commenter: “Hairy Legs Are Not a Sign of Feminism, They Are Just Gross.” This character is really tapping into unknown territory. Really telling us feminists how it is. /snark

  68. Hey, coming late to the party to cosign on what nightgigjo say way WAY upthread…

    As a person who works out an hour a day, five days a week, and doesn’t suffer from disordered eating (ie eats the recommended number of nutrient dense calories for a person the size I’m “supposed” to be) I take offense at the article, and at reality shows in general. Sometimes, you do everything “right” and you’re just fat, just like sometimes you do everything “wrong” and you’re thin. (sigh) Sorry, preaching the choir here…

    I’m not thin (anymore) and who knows why. Genetics? PCOS? Does it even matter? I bristle at the stereotype that I’m fat because I’m parked in my recliner in front of the boob tube, Dorito’s and HoHo wrappers wedged under my fat butt. And even if I DID do that, it doesn’t mean that is what MADE me fat. How many thin people do I know fit that stereotype? Many! But no-one is concered about the THIN recliner bound face stuffers or midnight fridge raiders, right? Right.

    The whole concept of the reality show makes me hurl, but these weight-loss shows are just the lowest of the low. Even folks who DO buy calories in/calories out and regular exercise spout all the “slow and steady” mantra, and talk about “safe” weight loss being 1-2lb a week. So we’re supposed to see these shows as what, exactly? Something to emulate? Er, reality?

    And Bean and Tapetum? Right ON!

  69. The comments at Salon for this piece does feature one worth reading, written by Laurel962. If you don’t want to wade through the ignorant comments (those don’t bother me as much because I rather expect folks on the Internets to be very st00pid), here’s the most impactful paragraphs from that comment:

    Last season, a woman finally won. One of the many ridiculous aspects of the show is that it pitches females against males, even though every doctor and researcher knows that women’s bodies are fundamentally different than men — different fat composition, hormones, less muscle mass, lighter bones etc. Women by necessity lose weight more slowly than men. But on “Biggest Loser”, contestants compete by percentage of weight lost, a system that is entirely unfair to the females.

    So — how did they get a female contestant to win? I don’t know, but I smell a rat. The young woman who won was about 135 pounds in the second to last episode — already having lost 99 pounds in only sixteen weeks. Yet in the single last week of competition, she dropped another THIRTEEN POUNDS to win the title — or an entire 10 percent of her body weight. Frankly, this is not possible to do in a healthy way without purging, diuretics, illegal diet drugs, or starving. Furthermore, I doubt it is possible to maintain this kind of weight loss permanetly.

    A little noted article in “People” magazine last year followed up with a handful of the show’s previous year’s participants — ALL had regained at least some of the weight, some a great deal. Most particpants refused to respond to the magazine’s writers, presumably because they have regained ALL or more weight than when they started.

    I haven’t bothered to watch “TBL”, but having seen some clips from it on NBC’s website, I have to say that it relentlessly promotes the doctrine of the fundamentalist branch of the Church of Dieting! It was quite repugnant and developmentally arrested.

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