6 February 2014

Paint by Number

Hello faithful readers of five, 

There has been much ado on social media about the finale of The Biggest Loser: Season 15. The winner, Rachel Frederickson, lost 155 pounds and went from 260 lbs to 105 lbs, which was almost a 60% loss. Her BMI based on her supposed height of 5'4" puts her either "underweight" or just on the cusp, depending on what chart you read. (Some have her at 16, 17' or 18). 

People on social media have gone crazy, saying she is "anorexic" (and from some posts, that is being kind). Sites like Diets in Review have raised alarm bells by saying things like: 

@DietsInReview: Rachel’s 60 Percent Weight Loss is Nothing to Celebrate; Biggest Loser Should be Ashamed http://t.co/QFwbIlzxYk << What did you think? #BL15 

While some good arguments are being raised in general about the show and their methods, I think we need to stop criticizing Rachel. Repeat after me: 

                                                 People are not only numbers. 

                                    People are not defined by arbitrary numbers.

First off, we are not medical professionals. Even those who claim to be, they are not her medical professional. We have no idea what her health is like.

Secondly, a BMI chart is not the best indicator of...welll...anything really. It is a guideline (one that has been arbitrarily redefined over the years and varies in different countries). It doesn't factor in bone or frame structure.

By that chart, I should be in the hospital right now with a blown artery, oozing fat out of my nostrils. My husband is technically quite a bit "underweight" (more so than Rachel) and has no health issues related to his weight. 

Thirdly, and most importantly, society needs to stop valuing people only by the number they represent on the scale. When some competitors "only" reached weight losses of 25-35%, people were critical for "not doing enough with the opportunity they were given." When they started, they were criticized for "letting themselves go." 

You truly cannot win at any level of weight by arbitrary standards of society. It seems that the only acceptable weight of someone else is what society deems they are comfortable with. If you are too thin (naturally or by diet) or too fat (naturally or by diet) and they are uncomfortable, it's not ok. 

My post isn't ignoring the very real issues of anorexia or obesity. I am not sweeping the very issue of disorders under the rug. But let's be clear that this is a competitor on a reality TV show that was given the best medical & professional supervision on this journey. She may very well have done something like hot sauana or detoxing for the weigh-in for one or two days prior to the final weigh-in, which was not indicative of her efforts prior too (which she claimed she ate 1600 calories a day in the weeks leading). 

So enough with the shaming. Put down the pitchforks and focus on the fact that a beautiful determined person is exactly that - a person, not a number. 


Ren said...

So true. My opinion is just that I didn't like how she looked at the finale. But I didn't really like how Olivia looked either.

I like a girl with a bit of curves, an athletic build.

She did amazing - broke records - and I hope she stays healthy (whatever weight that ends up being).

Jo said...

You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

There will always be critics, but I do agree with you and Ren in that I hope she stays healthy at whatever weight she ends up at.