Thin-Shaming the 'Biggest Loser' Is Just as Bad as Fat-Shaming

rachel fredericksonIt sure seems like when Rachel Frederickson won on the Biggest Loser everyone in the nation woke up the next morning magically transformed into rabidly righteous health nuts with a new, deep appreciation for body acceptance. Oh really, America? Where the hell were you the day before? She lost too much, too soon! We've finally gone too far! Why, that girl looks ANOREXIC!!! The hysteria has been overwhelming.

Look, I get it. It's not healthy for anyone to lose that much weight that quickly. But can we please check ourselves for a minute here? Seems like a woman can't win for trying -- even when she wins.


I just want to repeat again that I'm not condoning rapid, extreme weight loss for anyone. What I'm pointing out is the scrutiny we subject women's bodies to, how thinness gives us license to insult a person. How quick we are to cluck our tongues with disapproval over the choices a woman makes about her body. How the deafening roar of disapproval is drowning out what Rachel has to say about what she refers to as her "journey."

Yeah, you know, I think that I feel absolutely great. I've never felt this great before. I've officially found that proud, confident girl that I lost. I was an athletic national-level swimmer, and to have that athlete come back again, it's just truly an amazing feeling and I'm going to embrace the new me and continue this journey. And my body is going to balance and find its way with the new maintenance and it will be perfect.

Okay, it probably won't be "perfect." Nothing ever turns out perfectly. But she seems to understand that her body may change some more. She also seems to trust herself and her body to find its healthiest happy medium. You know what's NOT going to help her? Shaming her for doing something wrong.

And by the way, did no one notice that the runner-up, David Brown, lost 222 pounds and 54 percent of his starting weight? Fans are saying Rachel's prize should be given to him instead, because he's the "healthy" example. Wow, if only Rachel had known that 5 percentage points and a Y chromosome could make such a difference, she might have eaten a few cookies that last week and gotten a sex change.

I think this hit a nerve for me especially because I am Rachel Frederickson's size. No, I didn't lose 100 pounds to get there. I've been pretty much this size for my entire adult life. Yes, I know that at BMI of 18 is (GASP!) half a point south of "normal." But between me and my doctor, I'm as healthy as I can be. And that's all that matters. So when people took the criticism of Rachel's rapid weight-loss to the next level and started calling her ugly, anorexic, and "dangerously" thin, that pissed me off. What is the ideal weight and BMI to you, huh? Really. Because I don't think we'll accept anything as okay.

Now I'm just ranting, but I love the way Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams put it in Shamed for getting thin:

Our public discourse devotes far, far too much time and energy to scrutinizing other people’s bodies – especially women’s — and declaring they are somehow wrong. There is too much fetishizing BMIs and numbers on a scale, neither of which, in case you’re wondering, can accurately tell a total stranger whether another human being is “healthy.” The “journey” of Rachel Frederickson reveals, from start to finish, our dysfunctional, effed-up American relationship with food and weight. Being big is seen as a sad, sorry obstacle to be triumphed over; being thin entitles people to make snap judgments about whether you have an eating disorder. And there’s no real winner at all.

Do you think people overreacted to Rachel Frederickson's size?


Image via NBC


Read More >