The Reality of Weight Loss TV

Today’s colosseum is the television.  The gladiators are reality TV shows.  The victim is your daughter.

It is no longer just airbrushed models and ridiculously skinny celebrities that distort her body image.  Now ‘real’ people team up with famous trainers, chefs and psychologists to convince her that she is destined to be obese unless she takes drastic, sometimes life threatening measures.

In the United States, The Biggest Looser, arguably the most well known weight loss reality TV show made its debut in 2004.  Since then it has fascinated audiences worldwide, airing in over 90 countries and produced in 25 countries.  The Biggest Looser was followed by Weighing In in 2006.  Then, Dance Your Ass Off began in 2009.

The frenzy over skinny is an international obsession.  The UK, Australia and Canada all have versions of these shows.  And, like the Romans of old, the entertainment must become more graphic, more sensational, more unrealistic, to hold the audience’s attention.

Supersize vs. Superskinny, pits a grossly obese person, an anorexic and their respective diets against each other in the “arena.”  The individuals swap diets for a  week in order to learn about the other’s bad habits.  This exploitation of sick people only introduces them and the viewers to more dangerous habits.  The series also promotes extreme measures such as Laser Lipolysis and Diabulimia.

What’s the danger?  Is this not just another form of entertainment?  Are we really letting our children toy with behaviors as threatening as lions and gladiators?  Are our little girls being steeped in the lie that skinny is better, beautiful wins, and that beauty is not subjective?  Simply, experientially: Yes.

Check back next Monday for more on this topic…

5 thoughts on “The Reality of Weight Loss TV

  1. Okay…I love you, but you can’t compare Biggest Loser with some of the other TV shows. I know that we shouldn’t put emphasis on our kids beings “skinny”, but they SHOULD be healthy. The United States is ridiculously obese!!! I know you’ve said in the past that you don’t watch the Biggest Loser, so I wanted to give my input b/c I do and think the show is incredible. They do train these people in a way that they are at a level of being considered an “athlete”…however, they teach lifestyle changes…not get skinny quick so that you are acceptable to society. The majority of people on the show have severe obesity problems that are accompanied with life-threatening diseases. They aren’t on the show to be “skinny”…they are on the show to stay alive. Granted people do want to look good. Abby, I want to look good! I want to feel better about myself. I know you and I talk a lot about how are issues with food are similar, yet they are kind of opposite. I’ve spent my life being addicted to food. Hating my body. Its sinful to live a life where you constantly eat whatever you want just b/c you want it. These people need help. They need trainers and counselors to help them break the stronghold that food has on them. To break the addiction. They MIGHT come on there in the beginning in the hopes to “look good”, but they get so much more than that. I don’t think I quite understand what the problem is with wanting to look good anyway. I SO desire they day that I don’t have to wear a cardigan in the summer b/c I’m uncomfortable with my body. My wanting to be slim and healthy isn’t the problem. Our thought life is the problem. I don’t compare myself to people on TV or to my best friend who is a size 2….but some people do and that is where the main issue lies. We all have to be careful of what our motive is….its a heart issue! Its miserable and frustrating and embarrassing to not be able to find clothes that fit or to have people make fun of you. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the desire to look different.

    I DO however believe that fad-diets are wrong! Biggest Loser teaches these people how to cook and eat for themselves and not be on Atkins or whatever the new fad-diet is. They teach them to balance protein and carbs. To eat when your body needs it for fuel and not just to eat. To drink water b/c its what your body needs. They aren’t a fad! They are changing peoples’ lives. I can’t speak for the other shows though.

    You know I am just as passionate about this as you are. I would definitely let my kids watch biggest loser….however, I would watch it with them. I think we have a PARENTING problem! There are many parents out there that don’t engage with their kids. They don’t take the time to listen to what they’re kids are watching…or listen to what they’re kids are saying. I would watch TV with my kids and talk about it and make sure they understand. I also believe that TV has some impact on our lives, but kids are actually watching their parents. Parents are a much bigger impact than any other thing in their life. They WATCH! You can talk to them until you are blue in the face, but if your actions don’t line up…they aren’t listening. The FOLLOW.

    I love you girl, so very much! You know that! 🙂 I follow the same passion you do! This life is hard, but I don’t think that TV is really the ultimate problem.

  2. I AGREE. 1. We have a parenting problem. 2. I also think there is TV addiction in our culture.

    I really appreciate your opinion Beth and not just BECAUSE I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. But I learn so much from you too.
    You’re right. I have never watched a full episode of The Biggest Loser.

    In subsequent Monday article I bring up several other reality TV shows that are all about weight loss, obesity, thinness and obsession (that make Biggest Loser look innocent) and perhaps it is. I confess – I do own a couple of Jillan Michael’s workout DVDs and she is great.

    As I re-think my position in light of your comments, I have to honestly say I think I have a bigger problem with our culture’s addiction to reality TV than anything else. If I analyze these numerous shows (they have taken over programming) I wonder about humanity’s narcissistic attitude. And that we find such pleasure in the sensationalization of our lives – trying to make them grander, more exciting, more glittering, more appealing than what we experience in our own daily worlds.

    I speak for myself in this blog – I need to make sure people know that. This is only my opinion. And with my background with anorexia, The Biggest Loser can be a trigger for me and I hear the sirens and see the red flags that it COULD pose to an unsuspecting generation.

    Beth, I know too that people can say this to you every day and it will not necessarily change how you feel. But for the world to know – you are one of the most beautiful women I know. If I could name three people whom I want to emulate in my appearance, my attitude, my love for the Lord and my
    relationships – you are one of them. For all the time it takes for you to look just the want you want, I’m am so glad God made you just the way you are. Thank you too for your honesty, always.
    I LOVE YOU!!

  3. Oh my gosh Abby! you make me cry! You are so precious to me, you have no idea! I don’t know what relationships will look like in heaven b/c I know we will want to just worship Him….but I do hope that your mansion is close to mine. 🙂

    I agree with you! I have a love-hate relationship with “The Bachelor”. For some reason its addictive to me and I love watching it. HOWEVER, I think it causes more self-image issues than most other shows. It shows girls that you have to look good in a bikini to be attractive to a man. The producers even came out and said they look for girls that look good in a swimsuit! WHAT???? So the only way you could possibly be compatible with the Bachelor is to have a good body???? Gross! And, I think their dates are completely ridiculous!!! They are secluded and so far from the real world. But, every season when its time for over-night dates, I get so angry! I think I should just start skipping that week…my poor husband gets an ear-full! He has a great “connection” with the first girl, so lets sleep together. Then the next night, he tells that girl the same thing!!!!! GROSS!!!! You just had sex with the other girl the night before! ICK!!!! Anyway—back to body image. My biggest problem is not that we should strive to be healthy and comfortable and enjoy clothes and moving and living. Its that some TV shows give the impression that you are unacceptable for marriage or relationships if you are “fat” or “ugly”. It makes me SO angry!!!!! God made each of us beautiful and perfect!

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