The Biggest Loser = Morally Indefensible

I’m going to go ahead and say something that might piss you off.

If you watch The Biggest Loser you’re watching what amounts to torture porn.

This article from James Fell that appeared in the Guardian does a mighty job of documenting what’s wrong with the show.

My biggest problem with The Biggest Loser is how it portrays improving your fitness and losing weight as some kind of dreadful, impossible thing that can only be accomplished if you’re willing to submit to humiliation, pain and emotional suffering. I suspect there are millions of people in America who don’t even bother trying to improve their health and fitness because as they sit and watch this ridiculous, contrived, frankly bullshit show they convince themselves they couldn’t possibly do it.

I do blame the producers of the show and NBC, as well as the trainers who have agreed to be a part of what I am quite sure they know is a horrible and misleading portrayal of weight loss. But, and again, this is the part where you’re going to get mad at me, I also blame anyone who watches the show. Watching the Biggest Loser is morally indefensible.

You might say it’s just entertainment, but I would be willing to bet real money that if NBC put on a show where dogs got tortured for an hour every week you’d be up in arms.

You might argue that contestants on the show signed up willingly, and you have a point. A small one, but a point. Thing is, that still doesn’t make it ok. The contestants may have signed up to be abused for a chance at being on TV and winning some money, but, and here’s where you might get angry with me again, that you find it entertaining to watch someone else suffer means I wouldn’t trust you to take care of my houseplants.

Being entertained by the suffering of others shows a lack of compassion and empathy.

That’s really all there is to it. Maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons we have so many obese people in America is because we have such an abundance of people who lack compassion and empathy. Maybe if we were a nation of people who rejected, out of hand, any attempt by TV networks to sell us the misery and pain of others as entertainment our neighbors wouldn’t dive into a bag of Doritos every night in an attempt to fill the holes put into their psyches by the people around them who don’t care.

I started trying to help people lose weight and get fitter and healthier because the process of doing it for myself made me want to reach out and help. The network of people who kept me on track and helped me reach my goals were kind, caring and compassionate, and over time I found myself doing the same for others. Sometimes people need a little help and they’re on their way. A word of encouragement or an attaboy/attagirl is all it takes. Others got where they are today because of deep psychological and emotional wounds that created a self-destructive relationship with food. Some folks are surrounded by family who knock them down constantly and destroy their motivation and need to find support from others who believe in them.

I got into coaching other people because I want to lift them up, because I believe a rising tide really does lift all boats. I am disgusted and appalled by anyone who attempts to make a living by being cruel to others, whether they’re a TV show producer, a trainer, a TV network or an advertiser. Those people are horrible. But they couldn’t peddle their morally bankrupt wares if lots of you folks weren’t buying them.

So stop.

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