Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm over the "Biggest Loser" Show

Jillian described this last week's episode as her very favorite (2nd week in Season 9) and asked people to give her feedback on her Facebook page. All the feedback I read was positive.

My reaction was totally different. The show went over the top in my book.

First part of it, was psychologically abusing the contestants one by one. Dr Huizenga was in charge of that. Although none of them have any real co-morbidities, that didn't stop him from giving them dire predictions of where they will be in the next few years, i.e. diabetic, aging prematurely or dead. He mixed this message with strong suggestions that they were hurting their loved ones by being overweight.

And Dr Huizenga managed to get all the falsehoods about obesity in this part. "That was so enlightening" said some folks who gave Jillian the feedback on her Facebook fanpage.

Each participant, male and female alike was ripped apart psychologically and ended up crying. It was not pretty. I finally fast forwarded through the rest of it after being thoroughly nauseated. Abuse of any one and especially psychological abuse leaves lasting scars. And why was it necessary? These people have all shown good faith by coming to the ranch in the first place.

Next was the challenge - usually that's kind of fun but for this one, their first challenge in their second week (so they are not fit yet and still probably the heaviest group they're ever had on the BL) was a bit ugly. They were asked to walk on a 3 inch balance beam across the swimming pool to deposit beachballs in a basket on the other side. The winners got immunity from the weigh-in. The losers got a 2 lb penalty at the weigh-in.

Keep in mind that the balance beam the 89 lb gymnasts walk on is four inches wide.

To their credit, most of them struggled through this challenge but one older lady who is petrified of the water tried and tried and just couldn't do it. She finally fell on her face on the concrete around the pool and got an ambulance ride. She was ok but had a bruised face and a black eye.

Jillian took this lady later and helped her to learn to float. I suppose that's supposed to make it OK that she was forced to do the challenge which petrified her and ended up getting her hurt. Surely she won't be the first injury. Injury is common among the contestants on the Biggest Loser who immediately start running and other things they should NOT be doing at their size.

Finally was the "last chance workout" (the last workout before the weigh-in). Jillian and Bob delighted in "beating up" the contestants, screaming at them to go faster, harder. Two of them told them TV cameras that they hurt all over from last week and now they had to workout harder and it was sheer pain. The pain showed on the faces of most of the contestants. Some were crying and screaming back at Jillian and Bob. It was here that I had enough of their pain and fast forwarded to the weigh-in (which always takes long because there are several commercials - someone told me that there is only about 45 minutes of viewing time in a 2 hour show like the Biggest Loser).

Of the team which fell "below the yellow line" (didn't lose "enough weight"), was a mother and her daughter. The mother asked to go home.

I notice something interesting in those eliminated. They shed a few tears at the moment of elimination when the blond lady host announces "Sorry to say you are NOT the Biggest Loser and must leave campus immediately" But 24 hours later when they are arriving home, there is invariably a look of enjoyment - and yes, relief on their faces.

It's kind of like hitting your head against the wall. Feels so good when it stops.

I did not yet set up the Biggest Loser for recording next week. I think I've had my fill. After watching several seasons, each successive one which has featured heavier, less fit, older contestants, and watching those folks on the ranch slowly get battered, physically, emotionally and psychologically, I've had enough of that show.

And a sad thought comes to mind. If these were not fat people, what is done on the ranch would be illegal. For example, in the 1960's when similar things though not near as abusive, were done in the "EST" seminars on a weekend to managers, the "EST" group got in serious trouble.

No one seems to care about the fat people on the Biggest Loser though. And that is the real tragedy.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Shrek movies - do they really promote size awareness

On the surface, the Shrek series of animated movies seems to promote size acceptance. The so called hero of these movies is a fat green troll who is as noble as he is ugly. The lady he marries who first looks like a typical model type is actually a troll herself and turns into one when they get married. Like her husband, she's fat also.

There was always something which niggled me about these movies and after watching Shrek III, I thought it through.

I realized that not only is Shrek ugly looking but he's more than a bit uncouth (he IS a troll after all).

Everyone else in the movie is either a cute animal or very slim, nice looking humans - Shrek and wife are the only fat trolls.

Considering that, under the surface, Shrek does the opposite of what one might think. On an unconscious level, it connects "fat" with not only "ugly" but "uncouth" as well and it's pouring these connections into the unconscious minds of the viewers, the most pernicious type of brain washing and especially into the impressionable minds of kids.

I suspect if I had small kids I might not encourage them to watch these movies - more fat-a-phobia and negative connotations of people of size, we do not need.