Biggest Loser or Biggest Mistake?

We’ve never been a big fan of the Biggest Loser. Somehow sensationalizing and exploiting people with obesity doesn’t seem right. But the season finale this week seems to be causing even fans, perhaps even the coaches, to stop and wonder, “Is this a big mistake?”

What prompted this controversy was the appearance of the winner, Rachel Frederickson, after losing 60% of her body weight to go from 260 to 105 pounds — putting her at an underweight BMI. When she appeared on stage, the cameras cut to trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels who seemed to gasp at her unhealthy appearance. Social media lit up with people expressing dismay along these lines:

I feel like @nbc should issue a statement tomorrow w/r/t Rachel’s weight loss tomorrow. This is unhealthy and creepy. (From Christopher @The_Vole.)

Of course, NBC did no such thing and simply declined to comment on the concerns. Jillian Michaels (whose persona comes very close to fat-shaming) issued a don’t-blame-me statement on Facebook:

So here it is. Bob and I want to take a moment to congratulate all of the BL contestants on their hard work. We’re not comfortable commenting on Rachel’s journey because weren’t her trainers and weren’t given an opportunity to work with her at any point. Any questions about the contestants on the Biggest Loser should be directed to the show’s producers.

Even the fashion industry has begun to ban the use of models with an unhealthy BMI or who appear to have an eating disorder. We’re not big into shame, but in this case, we hope that NBC and producers of the Biggest Loser have some.

Click here to read more from the LA Times, here to read more from Time, and here to read NBC soft-peddling the problem on their Today show blog. 

Trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels React, photograph from the Biggest Loser Season Finale

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