Biggest Loser's Jillian Michaels Should Leave Fat Kids Alone

Jillian Michaels Heidi Rhoades
Jillian Michaels and partner Heidi Rhoades
Jillian Michaels' hiatus from the show that made her a household name allowed her to fulfill her dream of becoming a mom. So it's no surprise that she's marking her return to The Biggest Loser with a show about kids. What is surprising is that parents are actually letting their kids go on the show.

The next season of Loser will be the first ever to focus on the childhood obesity crisis. That means at least three of the contestants are 17 years old or younger. That's right, America, three overweight kids are about to be put out on a national stage for the rest of us to gawk at.

As a former fat kid, I'm going to come right out and say it: this might just be the WORST thing you can do to your overweight kid!


I can only guess these poor kids are in for a whole lot of public shaming. And my heart breaks for them as only the heart of a one-time chubby kid and current recovering bulimic can.

When you're a kid and you're overweight, you do everything you can to make your weight disappear. I mean that literally in terms of dieting, but I mean it figuratively too. I spent my teen years hidden away in over-sized sweatshirts and even bigger jeans. Thank God baggy was in in the '90s.

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But even as time -- and styles -- have changed, the reality of being a fat kid has not. American waistlines might be getting bigger, but we still live in a fat-shaming society where major women's magazines publish hate-filled screeds against "fatties."

And lest you say this will somehow be different because the new stars of Loser will be "just kids," allow me to point you toward the vile Internet hate that's sprung up in response to the reality show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. People are delighting in how badly they can trash a 6-year-old, and that most certainly includes mentioning her weight.

Now consider that Honey Boo Boo, while it has mentioned weight, is not a show that focuses directly on the issue. But Biggest Loser does and will. It will put out on national TV how morbidly obese these kids are and allow Americans to draw what conclusions they may.

These kids are about to be famous in the digital age, when escaping your critics is more or less impossible ... especially when part of being a teenager is being hooked into the Internet.

The fat hate is hard enough for the adult contestants who aren't dealing with the rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs that come with teenage hormones. Put that kind of pressure on a kid, and you could be talking devastating long-term effects.

I think the Biggest Loser producers and Jillian Michaels are brave here. She's said she'll talk about her own struggles with weight as a kid, and that could be inspiring. But I wonder at what risk. What will this do to these kids?

Would you allow your overweight kid to go on a show like Biggest Loser? Why or why not?


Image via Pacific Coast News

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