Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Biggest Loser - you lost me at "disgusting"

Unless you've been stranded on a desert island, you're probably aware that the 2012 season of The Biggest Loser (Australia) began last night. Having seen a fair chunk of last year's offering, I sat down to watch it with pretty low expectations.

My opinion of reality TV in general is that it's cheap, lazy programming, repetitive and predictable. It's also manipulative, taps into the worst of human nature and shows little respect for either the audience or the participants. All that aside, I was a bit stunned to realise that this year's series has a bizarre twist: the contestants are all single and all hoping to transform themselves into not just a thinner and healthier person, but someone who deserves love.


That's right - every one of these contestants apparently believes that nobody could want them or be attracted to them; that girls (or guys) they meet never look at them as prospective partners BECAUSE THEY'RE OVERWEIGHT. Wow.

I'm sure that each of them understands the health and lifestyle benefits attached to shedding 50, 60 or 70kg. I'm also sure that they want to be able to wear fashionable clothes and participate in social activities that require a reasonable level of fitness. But the overriding sentiment from all 16 contestants throughout the first episode was "I just want someone to love me. Nobody could love a fattie. And I don't blame them; I'm ugly and disgusting."

That anyone can think that way about themselves makes me sad. But I'm more angry than sad, because this mostly comes down to TBL 2012's angle. I can only imagine the hours of footage that never made it to air - the show's producers decided on their theme from the start, and if they haven't actually scripted any of the responses, they've certainly edited them to present the viewpoint they've chosen: Fat people are unacceptable to society, offensive, disgusting and unlovable.

Listen up, people. All of us are who we are, in spite of how our body looks at any given time. The person  inside, the YOU that someone will love, is there no matter how you look on the outside. I've weighed over 90kg and I've weighed under 50kg. I may have looked considerably different, but it was the same old me on the inside. My husband, my friends, my family all loved me at both those stages and at every one in between.

I didn't like carrying those extra 30-odd kg. I hated the impact it had on my health and my ability to do things I used to take for granted. I dreaded shopping for clothes. But NEVER did I believe that I was unworthy of love because I was fat. I may have had numerous other issues, but liking the person inside of me wasn't one of them.

Love and respect are not things you earn by becoming thinner.

Boo, Channel 10! And boo to all involved in producing this show. I don't find it inspirational or motivating or anything else positive. The whole thing is geared towards providing "entertainment", but what I mostly see is the promotion of shitty attitudes, cyber-nastiness and bullying. But that's a whole OTHER rant.



Unknown said...

Can I get an A-MEN! LOVE this post!

Kek said...

I thought you might.... :)

Kek said...

Hey, where did my fancy comments thingie go? O_O

Dammit. Stupid technology.

Sara said...

Wow, that is also quite ridiculous. one of the most man-magnet women i ever knew was obese. A successful lawyer with great dress sense and way with words. Men were lining up. A man that can't appreciate thexperson inside the body isn't a good bet for the long term. Things change, ya know...

Kek said...

Oh yeah. It's never about the packaging. There certainly are shallow people in the world, who would never date someone who was overweight. But then, they'd never date someone with severe acne or a visible physical disability either.

Pfft. If you think love requires a perfect exterior package, you've obviously never FELT love in your life. And besides, there are plenty of beautiful people who are ugly as hell on the inside...

KJ Photography said...

The sad thing is that people think that way at all. I stayed in a relationship that made me feel crap and like dirt because I was obese and thought "well, I have a guy now, if we break up, no-one is going to want me". In the end he broke up with me after four years because he didn't find me attractive anymore (his words exactly).

Thankfully that thinking has gone by the wayside for me, but I know its still out there. And it's ably assisted by all the advertising and marketing promoting that if you're not thin, you're not going to "get the man" (or woman).

(Long time lurker, first time commenter....)

Kek said...

Hi Katie! Thanks for de-lurking. :)

I know a lot of overweight people feel unlovable, and I'm glad that you've managed to overcome those feelings. And, hey - you did it without having to endure humiliating public weigh-ins or baring your sole on national TV.

Kek said...

That was SOUL, of course. Damn you, autocorrect!

Anonymous said...

Kerryn, I have to admit I suffer from this mindset. (Also said the same to Liz.) I blame my weight for my single-ness... but similarly realise that my weight is the symptom of something else.

A shrink I once saw told me I became anorexic because I feared being perceived as attractive / sexual etc... And thought I became overweight for similar reasons - but who the hell knows.

I'm not planning on watching the show, mainly cos it makes me feel crap about myself - I don't achieve those weight-loss numbers and don't achieve a similar makeover... therefore feel like a big fat loser!

Kek said...

Hey, Shmiet, I know a lot of people feel that way. :( I wish that TBL put more effort into turning those feelings around and less into making contestants endure punishing workouts that make them puke, or placing "temptations" in their way.

I think you've made the right call in boycotting the show. I doubt it helps many viewers - and it probably hurts those with eating disorders.

Katie Paul said...

I totally agree. Sexy has nothing to with size. Beauty has nothing to do with how much you weigh.

For me TBL is part of the conspiracy that tries to control our passionate nature by convincing us that we don't deserve love unless we look a certain way that is mostly unattainable (thin, young, blemish free, successful and mainstream).

I haven't watched in in years and I'm not about to start -- Boo indeed!

AnnalisaW said...

This sums up exactly what I thought when I saw the previews and I was pretty disappointed. What's more disappointing is as I read the comments above, I recognise a few names from 12WBT. I didn't find that kind of sentiment espoused by 12WBT (I could be wrong) so it's doubly disappointing to me that Mish B would endorse that angle.

Some of the most beautiful people (inside and out) that I know are not slim by anyone's measure. But they are AWESOME! Equally, I've known some very unlovable and ugly-minded people with super model bodies. It's ridiculous.

Kek said...

KatieP, somehow I knew you'd agree with this post....

Hi Annalisa. It IS disappointing. While I don't have great expectations of any reality show, they could do some good through this one by setting some positive examples. Unfortunately the emphasis of each episode is on shock value or displaying the worse side of human nature, rather than anything positive - because it's all about ratings and the resultant advertising dollars.

They claim to care about the contestants' wellbeing, but personally, I think that essentially they chew them up and spit them out.

From what I've seen of Michelle B, she does seem to have good values in her own business ventures, but in this program, the trainers have to play the role they're paid to perform and stick to the script... If the job was offered to me (not that it would be, of course), I think I'd have to say no. The money and potential spin-off projects/income would be tempting. I wonder....

Sairs said...

Hey there, Kek! So, it's been ages since I have had any level of web based activity (no blogs, ditched FaceBook, stopped Googling...) but something drew me to your blog today, and I would just like to say:
Brava, Lady Kek.

I will keep watching TBL. I really can't help myself; I am addicted to train wreck trash on the box. I also have discovered that I like being indignant and offended and yelling at stupidity. Ergo - TBL watcher!

What has p*ssed me off about TBL, is the pervading assumption that you can't POSSIBLY be fat and happy, and fat always = lonely.

Yes, I will keep watching it. But I will continue to yell expletives anytime anyone suggests that being overweight = crappy personality and horrible life. Which probably means I'll keep watching it until my fiancee gets thoroughly fed up with listening to me yell and bans it in the house!

Now, to read through about a year's worth of back catalogue blogs!

x S

Kek said...

Sairs! I missed you on Facebook.... Big hug to you!

Don't worry, I'm still watching it too - and I'm yelling at the TV right along with you. Perfectly normal behaviour...

Piers McCarney said...

Hey, nice article!
I wrote on this just the other day on my site and it's been great to see the amount of people that are agreeing and resonating with the message that weight and loving yourself are not necessarily related at all.
I'm going to check out some more of your site; love if you'd give mine a glance (seem to have some cross-over interests). :)

Kek said...

Thanks for visiting, Piers - I totally agree with all you had to say. :)

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