If you're one of these people who are so indoctrinated into diet culture (I was one of those people for 33 years, and it never made me thin, it just made me miserable) that you believe that shaming and bullying large people "for their own good" is a great idea, here are some key points refuting that belief.
This show caused so much harm to the health of contestants and viewers alike by perpetuating weight stigma. Since the show went off the air, we have research related to how weight stigma and yo-yo dieting actually harms people in larger bodies. Additionally, there is research from prior Biggest Loser contestants indicating long term negative effects:
Participants not only gained the weight back due to a slowing of the metabolism but that participants had increased leptin levels that cause extreme hunger:
From The National Association of Eating Disorders:
“Weight stigma, also known as weight bias or weight-based discrimination, is discrimination or stereotyping based on a person's weight. Weight stigma can increase body dissatisfaction, a leading risk factor in the development of eating disorders.”
From Abby's Kitchen:
DANGEROUS SECRETS FROM THE BIGGEST LOSER & MY PETITION TO MAKE IT STOP
“A study published in the Journal of Obesity suggested that watching even one episode of the Biggest Loser increased hateful weight bias among viewers! This is particularly concerning to me when there are children watching, as it’s easy to sense and duplicate the disgust for fatness when they see it in their peers or even themselves."
From Today’s Dietitian:
January 2018 Issue
The Health Impact of Weight Stigma
By Carrie Dennett, MPH, RDN, CD
Vol. 20, No. 1, P. 24
“The health risks of weight discrimination are consistent with the observed effects of racial discrimination.”
Being the target of weight stigma increases the risk of poor mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and eating disorders. These associations happen regardless of BMI, so it's unlikely that body weight itself is a cause.”
“Harrison says. "The majority of the clients I've treated for disordered eating cite bullying or shaming for their weight by parents, peers, coaches, or health care professionals as the initial trigger for their issues with food."
My reason for signing the petition is this.
Promotion of size shaming and eating disorders does not equate with "health."
I have had an eating disorder since I was twelve years old. I was not fat at twelve, but I was so terrified of becoming fat that I became bulimic.
I never felt direct hatred for fat people, but I saw the way that they were bullied and shamed. I was already the target of bullying. I couldn't bear the idea of the bullying being stepped up if I got fat.
I am fat at this point. Not the "I feel fat" kind of fat. (By the way, "fat" is not a feeling.) I am really, genuinely, truly fat, and yes, I am "that" fat. My size, like everyone's size, results from a combination of factors. The first and most important factor in determining a person's body type is DNA.
One of the waitresses I worked with at the job I had eighteen years ago was a tall, sturdy young woman. One time in the break room she ended up telling me about her sister, who was bulimic and anorexic. She told her sister: "we're big people. We come from a line of big people. It isn't natural for us to be skinny."
So, which sister was the "healthier" of the two? The one who accepted the way she was built and went on with her life, or the one who was so obsessed with the idea of becoming thin that she was going to extremes to manipulate her body to a perceived point of acceptable slenderness?
By the way, health is not a measure of personal worth. I am not asking which of these sisters was more worthy of being treated with common decency. They are both worthy of that.
I had a very difficult time during this past holiday season. My feelings of self-worth plummeted to the depths. I ended up starving myself. I also ceased my daily walks. I didn't feel motivated to walk, and I felt as if everyone was staring at me and judging me. Also, walking can be painful for me. No, not because I'm fat. I was fat back when I was waitressing. I was fat when I was working as a nursing assistant and later as a nurse. These jobs contributed to the spinal problems I now have. So did engaging in behaviors consistent with orthorexia, such as spending five hours a day at the gym on my days off from work. My size did not.
I don't know how people can fathom that it's okay to say whatever they want to a big person. Okay, I actually know how it happens. It happens because larger people have been othered and dehumanized. One of our neighbors saw me having trouble shoveling the snow off the porch. He came over to help. In fairness, he wasn't trying to be cruel, and I think he is in the early stages of dementia. But this is what came to his mind, and what society has led him to think is perfectly okay to say.
"My wife was built like you. She was obese. But at least you're trying. She didn't try, so she died."
If you think that "obese" is a harmless word, think again. Obese is a shaming, othering, dehumanizing word which leads to people being denied proper health care and even basic respect. Obese is a word that kills people.
I'm fat. I'm not stupid. I know when I'm being condescended to. I know when I'm being looked down on. I know when I'm being othered.
Sometimes my bad attitude prevails and I let the middle finger fly and go on about my life.
Sometimes I get broken and relapse into unhealthy behaviors (starving myself) and self-loathing.
I got broken over this holiday season. I starved myself, and I stopped taking my walks because I felt like I was being watched and judged and the walks weren't bringing on the almighty WATE LOOZE!!11!!! Which, of course, is the only thing that matters.
I am getting back in the saddle and charging back into action on my very large horse.
So, if you're one of those people who thinks it's okay to behave badly towards me and others who look like me because we don't fit your criteria of beautiful or fuckable or because we don't fulfill your criteria of perfect "health"...
Let's face it. It's never really about health.
You may expect that this is where I tell you to FOAD.
Actually, I'm going to ask you to read the words above mine again.
Then I'm going to ask you to go read these blogs.
Big Fat Science
Dances With Fat
If, after reading those blogs you still think it's fun to ridicule fat people or concern troll fat people or you still think The Biggest Dickweed is good wholesome entertainment for the family...
Then you can fuck off forever.