Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

The Grace Space: How to View the New “Biggest Loser” Winner in a Fat-Shaming Society

    If we’re close enough of friends, you probably know how hard of an issue my weight has been for me for the last few years. You probably also know that I have been seriously attempting to lose weight since the beginning of this school year—and, at 13 pounds lighter than Sept. 25—I am feeling as though I am succeeding.

    However, it’s been a difficult process. Getting up and going to the gym at 7 almost every morning, not eating carbohydrates, attempting to drink my weight in ounces of water per day… There are a lot of hard steps that I would often rather forgo for an extra hour of sleep or a black-bean burger.

    Thus, when it was revealed that the newest winner of “The Biggest Loser” shed 155 pounds in a period of four months, I was shocked and incredibly concerned as to how anyone could feel that this was normal.

    In fact, a lot of people had the same reaction as I did (hence the reason for this column).

    Rachel Frederickson, a voice-over actress from Los Angeles, began her journey on the show at 260 pounds when she arrived at the ranch, used as a training base for the show. The 24 year-old left the ranch at 150 pounds—an incredible amount of weight loss, and an accomplishment many would be proud of. Yet, in the few short months she spent at home before the finale this past Tuesday, she lost another 45 pounds, revealing herself to be 105 pounds and the winner of the show’s 15th season.

    Two of the show’s trainers, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, were shown to be shocked as well as Frederickson’s weight loss was revealed. Yet, neither one appears to be able to comment on the staggering weight loss, both because they did not work with Frederickson, and because of the show’s producers.

    While the two trainers cannot comment, various news medias have. ABC’s Good Morning America featured a story on the weight loss on Feb. 6, and spoke with Chris Powell, a trainer on “Extreme Weight Loss.”

    “She did what she set out to do,” he said. “To lose as much as you can in as short a time as you can…she’s playing a game. You need to keep that in mind.”

    CNN also featured a story of the weight loss on Feb. 6, interviewing Dr. Steven Lamm, a weight management expert and medical director of NYU’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health.

    “Can you be too thin? Yes. Can it be as dangerous as being too fat? Yes,” he said.

    Yet, while various outlets as well as millions of Twitter users have spoken out against Frederickson, it is imperative to remember that she was crowned the winner of $250,000 for her dramatic weight loss. Could a money prize like this be causing people like Frederickson to jump from one extreme to another?

    Personally, I am not a fan of “The Biggest Loser,” for reasons that I feel have been exemplified here. I don’t think it’s appropriate to coerce people to get healthy for a lump sum of money, and I have also read a great deal of articles in regard to the harsh practices and conditions at the ranch not shown on television. This is no way means I am against getting healthy—I’m trying to be healthier myself, as I’ve mentioned above—but I don’t think that shows like “The Biggest Loser” are really showing the right ways and the right reasons for getting healthy.

    Frederickson, at 5’5″ and 24 years old, is 105 pounds. She lost almost 60 percent of her body weight during her time competing. Does that mean we should follow her lead? I don’t think we should.

    To lose 155 pounds in such a short period of time is taking weight loss too far and too fast. I only hope that the teenage girls and young women who have felt the pressures of society for them to look a certain way or be a certain way don’t take Frederickson’s story as reality. Instead, we need to do what’s right for ourselves, and our health, and be happy with what we can accomplish, no matter how big or small.

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