Over the years, I’ve had conflicts when talking about celebrities. I didn’t want to feel like she was actively or passively elevating one body type over another; and I didn’t want to feel like I was inviting people to criticize a woman’s body or judge the body she has. I don’t think there’s a really safe way to do it, so I stopped doing it.
But over the past day, I was reminded exactly why the answer can’t be to simply stop talking about the people who contribute to and shape our culture; It really has to be a celebration. It has to be enthusiastic and empathetic encouragement.
This is why:
“I love her music, yes, 100%… I don’t know anything about her… I’m sure she’s a cool, amazing girl… but why are we celebrating her body? Why does that matter? That’s what I’m saying: why don’t we celebrate her music? Because it won’t be great if she gets diabetes. III-I’m just being honest. I love her music. My daughter loves her music. But there’s never a moment where I think, ‘And I’m so glad she’s overweight!’ Because I care? Why is it my job to worry about her weight? [source]
That’s Jillian Michaels, former coach of the hit weight loss competition television show. The big loserexplaining his feelings about beautiful pop culture star Lizzo—Why do we care about your weight?
We don’t, and I don’t think Michaels understands it. In fact, I think there is a batch here that Michaels just doesn’t get.
Over the years, I have constantly complained about the damage that a program like The big loser It was doing not only to fitness, but to society in general. There are people in this world who believe that people deserve to suffer: they should suffer as punishment for being fat; They should suffer for the reward of being thin. The biggest loser He benefited from turning those people into an audience and turning his contestants into side shows. The entire ordeal was an exercise in socially acceptable cruelty, both in front of and behind the camera.
Case in point:
“We did a challenge in a stadium in California. It was about 100 degrees that day and the challenge was to run up the stairs and then do the wave around the stadium and then run down the stairs and back across the football field. When we finished we were obviously covered in sweat, we were all out of shape and that was a really difficult challenge in that heat. They brought us bottles of water that we had packed in the truck that had been exposed to the heat all day, and they handed out coolers for the coaches, the cameramen, the audio crew, and for Caroline Rhea and They had cold water and we drank 90 degree water afterwards. us ran the challenge. . . . And actually one of the contestants, Eric from New York (he won my season) lost his temper at that point and yelled that we weren’t animals and to please stop treating us like animals and they handled it like they always treated us. [they] It calmed him down and reminded him how lucky we were to be there, that it was saving his life.“—Kai Hibbard, former Biggest Loser contestant
Hibbard gave an extensive interview to Golda Poretsky in Body Love Wellness (Part 1, part 2, part 3), where she described the frankly dangerous and traumatic experience of being a cast member of a show that teaches you to lose weight at all costs. Just make sure you sweat, bleed, and rest for the crowd. Hibbard talks in depth about the eating disorder she developed by adopting the “whatever it takes” attitude; He is the natural precursor to Rachel Frederickson, winner of the 2014 season of The biggest loserwho arrived at the finalists’ stage emaciated to the point of having lost much of the muscle in her face, a sign that perhaps she had taken the challenge too far.
All of this was only made worse by the fact that research showed that most The biggest loser contestants regained the weightwhich sparked a massive conversation about the damage the program and this degree of training causes to the human metabolism.
And you can almost smell the hint of guilt in the new iteration of Loserwhich now airs on USA Network and is rebranded to address weight loss but also “general wellness.”
Yes, I definitely trust that.
In other words, the program that created the Michaels brand (the brand that evolved to sell glorified caffeine pills) created the climate in which people believed that this type of torturous training was necessary to lose weight, as if people didn’t allowed to lose weight. being fat in public unless it was to earn the respect of society by fighting for their thinness. Society correctly responded by trying instead to celebrate those who simply choose to exist freely, happily, and joyfully in public, something Lizzo does with high cheekbones and big butts on stage and completely glorious women of all shapes and sizes by her side.
He is literally inviting everyone to the party he is throwing, where the only thing he offers is happiness and encouragement. She is modeling what it looks like to take moments of pleasure and excitement for herself, by yourself. Lizzo is the exact, specific and precise opposite pole about which plus size women can be in public. It’s not dramatic, it’s not somber, it has no comedic value, it’s not manipulated into crying for a camera, it doesn’t suffer for entertainment: just joy. If we only had a bunch of Lizzos on screen, Jillian Michaels and the show that created her wouldn’t exist. They wouldn’t be on my screen. Say this shit.
And that’s what makes this so disgusting: Michaels expresses her criticism in this fake feminist script of “why do we care about her body?” We care because we are trying to correct a course that shows how Loser put us on stage, where we literally saw you put people on scales before an audience as if they were cattle. As if they were something less than human. We are trying to create joy for women in their bodies, all bodies, and here you are now complaining about the very thing that created your career. Why are you angry, sister? Because if we have room for a world full of Lizzos, wouldn’t there be room for you to berate them and then joke about it?
But Michaels gives the game away, perhaps accidentally, when he says, “Won’t it be wonderful if he gets diabetes.”
Ah, there it is.
For the record, the same thing that can cause weight gain can also cause type 2 diabetes, which means that both can exist in a person without the other…which means that thin people can also develop diabetes, but we’ll never talk That’s because we only talk about diabetes when we want to impose acquiescence on large people.
Fat hate masked by concern trolling masked by pseudo-feminist rhetoric. All delivered with a cocky smile.
We have to celebrate everyone, because now we know…with suicide rates on the rise, Increasing rates of depression and anxiety.and the side effects of that: the dangers of trying to force people back into the shadows. We have to respond fervently when people question the space we try to create for everyone, because it is at the margins where the harm occurs. The margins are where shame takes hold of people and refuses to let go. I know what it’s like there and I will fight tooth and nail to prevent anyone else from being forced to go there.
People like Michaels, and shows like the one who created her, profit from shoring up the margins… and then exploit people desperate to get back to the rest of us. It’s the opposite of what we need.
I told everyone a decade ago that this show, and many of the people involved in its production, were a disaster. Will everyone listen to me now, or not?