Thursday, February 6, 2014

Can you lose too much weight? And also, why are people the worst?

I'm sure you've heard about the Biggest Loser finale by now, and how the winner, Rachel Fredrickson, is being slammed for losing too much weight. And after reading countless news articles, tweets, and Facebook posts about it, I had to chime in.

Before I say anything about it, I want to make it clear that I'm not trying to skinny-shame her or make light of any eating disorders. People really do come in all shapes and sizes, and each person's weight is really between themselves and their doctor.

I was seriously stunned when I saw Rachel on Tuesday night. And not in a good way.

So let's look at her. Here she is at the beginning of the season, at makeover week, and at Tuesday's finale. She started out at 260 pounds, was in the 150s at makeover week, and ended up at 105. There are conflicting reports about how tall she is - some people have said 5'8, and others have said 5'4. I think she looks like she's 5'8, but pictures can obviously be deceiving.
First, there have been several people who have said things along the lines of "a woman just can't win! People were mad when she was fat, and now they're mad that she's skinny!" Let me tell you, that isn't the issue here. Let's look at some of the female contestants from this season.
All photos courtesy of NBC.
I see six healthy, beautiful women. I see evidence that it IS possible to be a woman and lose (a lot of) weight in a healthy way. What I'm saying is: don't blame Rachel's criticism on a lack of feminism. Ignoring any unhealthy eating habits just because she's a woman and should be immune to criticism is dumb. If there's an issue, it should be addressed.

There are also people that say that people are just jealous of Rachel's success. The whole lot of you can just shut up, because you're dumb too. You know how I feel about people and "jealousy."

Some people say that we shouldn't be surprised that the Biggest Loser has instilled disordered eating habits in one of its contestants. Maybe that's true, but I feel like the majority of the damage that Rachel did to herself happened during the time that she was home, between leaving the ranch and the finale. I'm not sure if that time was monitored by doctors, but I would imagine it wasn't. I DO assume, however, that she was being bugged by producers. Either way, I wouldn't jump automatically to anorexia as a lot of people have done, but I DO think there's some kind of disordered eating going on. I mean, it makes sense, right? She had unhealthy eating patterns that led to her weight gain... it's totally within the realm of possibility that she's gone to the other side of the spectrum.

Also, I think Rachel demonstrated that she could have an unhealthy relationship with food when she packed every single meal for their trip to Colorado. I know some of you may disagree with me and say that she's just being responsible so she doesn't become tempted to overeat. Maybe that's true, but any good doctor or dietitian will tell you that the best meal plans allow for variation and the occasional indulgence. Maybe I'm over-thinking it, but that moment in the show was disconcerting for me. You can't control anything 100%, and attempting to do so is just going to make you go insane.

Of course, all of this is to say that really, it's none of our business. Well, that's not entirely true. She voluntarily joined this television show, knowing that her weight loss journey was going to be heavily documented. The fact that she ended up underweight is cause for concern, not hostility and snark. Either way, she deserves compassion. She doesn't deserve to be called ugly or anorexic or disgusting.

I'm not sure what the show should do going forward. you KNOW they weigh the contestants before they get onto the big televised scale, so maybe there should be a caveat that says that contestants become ineligible for the grand prize if they aren't within a healthy weight?

Either way, I hope Rachel gets back on the right path, and I hope people lay off with all the harsh, angry, misguided comments.

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Lindsey said...

Oh my GOSH you seriously took the words right out of my mouth. I have something pretty similar to this in my drafts that I wrote yesterday, but Liam was being a terror and I didn't get around to finishing it. I felt so uneasy when I saw her! I'm sad for her. I know there is a prize involved, but she really shouldn't have gone to such extremes to win. She looked like she lost muscle mass and I'm not sure how you can do that in such a short amount of time unless she really stopped eating. She was also unsteady (when she stumbled onto the scale) on her feet and maybe she was being modes, but didn't even realize that she had won. She just seemed out of it. It's sad and I hope that she can get her eating issues worked out, because you can be unhealthily overweight AND unhealthily underweight. I'm glad someone else feels the same as me on this topic. She just needs support!

JMc said...

Ya know, when they went to Colorado I just thought "wow she is really focused and prepared" but after the finale I sorta see your point. Maybe she was already taking it to the extreme then. She was a former almost Olympic swimmer right? So she definitely has to have that competitive nature. A lot of people that competitive have a hard time not focusing 110% on something even if they take it to an unhealthy level. I hope she gets to a healthy place and pulls at least a little weight back on. I just think 105 is so so very small especially if she is 5'8".


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