In Protest of Competitive Weight Loss

Everyone will have to forgive me for being absent. I just finished moving from my small suburb to the big city! I have officially completed my first week of graduate school. So far, so good. Class has given me much to think about and write about. But before I get to the academic things I want to weigh in on something. I am continually disturbed about this whole Torrid boot camp thing. I know everyone has said their piece about it but I still haven’t had a chance to really rant.

Let me just say that this news was the last straw for me. I am so over the whole idea of competitive weight loss shows. I think we need to start boycotting and writing angry letters. Its been a while since I’ve written an angry protest letter. Just thinking about it makes me…I digress.

I know that humiliation is at the root of every reality television show. Fat people deal with enough scrutiny about their weight on a daily basis. I don’t see the appeal of repeatedly standing on a scale and listening to a host of “expert commentary” based on the number that appears on the scale all in the name of a prize that you probably won’t win in the end. These shows talk about so many different things. But at the end of the day, everyone watches to see that number on the scale. When one doesn’t lose weight, they are subject to the criticism of the panel as well as their peers/teammates. Here we go again. Size is something to be ashamed of, so now we are going to “motivate” you through complete disrespect and outward displays of disappointment junior high style.

The one thing that bothers me most is the competitive aspect. These shows claim to be educating the masses about healthy eating and dieting. At the same time, the contestants are rewarded regardless of how they lose the weight. For instance, in the most recent season of celebrity fit club, Tina Yothers admitted on that last episode that she followed a diet of strictly protein in preparation for the last weigh in. Dr. Ian, expert panelist, mentioned briefly that protein-only was not a healthy way to lose weight. But at the end of the day, her team won partly because of her strategy. It’s as though the shows say one thing and do another. They’re supposedly promoting healthy lifestyles, while rewarding the by-any-means-necessary approach to weight loss. Seriously, what the hell?

Lastly, competition implies that there can only be one winner. Only one person can look the best, and be the healthiest. It’s like saying that everyone else isn’t good enough. Warning Feminist Soapbox Ahead: Women! Beauty is not a competition. Stop it. Seriously. Just stop it and get over yourself. I mean it.

OK, I’m back. It scares me that Torrid is even participating in this weight loss boot camp thing. Regardless of their involvement, I just don’t think that a company can promote body acceptance by making fashionable clothes in a variety of sizes and then turn around and assist in the production of a show that centers on the idea that women need to compete in order to validate how beautiful they are.

So, it really is the last straw for me. I am now boycotting competitive weight loss in all its forms. Who’s with me?

Buy the way, if any one can manage to get a hold of the most recent issue of Ms. magazine, the cover article concerns body image and the media. The article mentions the positive effects of blogs like this one, and others in the fatosphere. So, I want to say kudos to those who are brave enough to keep writing about Fat Acceptance and cheers to Ms. magazine for recognizing their achievements.

9 Responses to “In Protest of Competitive Weight Loss”

  1. May 22, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    wow. this is amazing.

  2. May 22, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Ahem. If constant teasing and humiliation about weight made people thin, there shouldn’t be a fat middle school student anywhere.

  3. 3 intellectualfeminist
    May 22, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    I suppose you are right Meowser, but some people are able to resist that and others are gluttons for punishment and have funny ways of being motivated. Thanks hollywood!

  4. May 22, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    I have heard people say that “The Biggest Loser” is a great show because it “inspires people to do something about themselves”. What, engage in behaviours that are basically eating disorders and become scheming and manipulative towards each other? Wow, yeah, I’m really inspired to destroy my physical and mental health.

    Sadly many of these people claiming inspiration are themselves fat. I mean, I don’t blame them for believing in the fantasy of being thin, but to believe that you deserve to be raked over the coals and have a culture that only reinforces that belief…argh.

  5. 5 littlem
    May 22, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    “They’re supposedly promoting healthy lifestyles, while rewarding the by-any-means-necessary approach to weight loss. Seriously, what the hell?”

    Cognitive Dissonance. A critical staple of the American diet.

  6. May 22, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    To be entirely fair to the Biggest Loser though, the message that I took from it was that you can still do amazing physical feats while extremely “overweight”. I know that’s not the intended message, but when I saw people weighing half again as much as I full-out running for half an hour to win a challenge I see that there’s no reason I can’t work out, not lose the weight and do stuff like that too.

    I wonder how many other people have that experience?

  7. May 22, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    I’d be delighted to join you in your boycott of comptetitive weight loss shows except that I’ve boycotted them from the beginning. They struck me as a toxic concept from the start.

    But I’ll be thrilled to have such good company in boycotting them from now on.

    Oh, and Torrid? You’re not getting even one thin dime from me after this.

  8. 8 sweetmachine
    May 25, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Excellent post! You are so right about the cognitive dissonance of the thing.

    (By the way, what are you studying in grad school? Congrats on your move.)

  9. 9 intellectualfeminist
    May 25, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks sweetmachine. My degree program is gender and cultural studies. It’s really interesting so far.

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