Blogging is for venting, right? At least once in a while, no? Well, I'm going to vent. Yes, that's what I'm going to do today. I hope you don't mind, but I'll give you time to get out while you can...
Still here? Now, I'm not the type to write reaction blogs habitually, and I don't plan on it (not that I'm devaluing that; it's just not my thing). But on Tuesday, I tuned into the finale of the Biggest Loser, and pretty much reacted just like this along with trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels to the winner's reveal.
What were they reacting to? Well, as the final hour of the finale drew to a close, fan favorite, Rachel Frederickson had her big reveal, walking through the double doors with a picture of her former self projected onto it. From far away on my television screen, she looked thin, but it didn't shock me at first in the same way that Bob and Jillian were clearly shocked. I thought "Oh wow, she's tiny, almost too small but okay I guess." When she stood next to her overweight hologram the difference was astounding and no one could deny it.
It's when Rachel stepped on the scale for her final weigh-in that I realized the magnitude of the weight she'd lost, and why the trainers reacted in the way they did. Rachel lost almost 60% of her initial 260 pounds, leaving her a shell of her former self. And not a particularly healthy shell either.
And then... they zoomed in on her face and she looked about 40. Oh, by the way, she's only 24!
Her trainer, Dolvett Quince, came to her defense (at least that's how news articles are putting it) on Wednesday morning stating in part "please try not to look at one slice of Rachel's journey and come to broad conclusions. Rachel's health is and always has been my main concern and her journey to good health has not yet ended!" If you ask me, Dolvett's statement is also loaded with concern for her health, and almost seems to expose his belief that she looks unhealthy. And the fact that both Bob and Jillian have opted not to comment yet were so clearly disturbed during the finale, just solidifies it for me. Let me be clear, I am not passing judgment in any way. I know too well about the trials of striving for fitness. As a gymnast, the pressure to be lighter and stronger to ensure you'd be faster and better was overwhelming at times. A few years ago, in the midst of my fitness journey, I struggled against the temptation to skip meals or go to bed hungry because of the frustration of feeling like I wasn't seeing my handwork pay off on the scale. I remember what it was like rationalizing that it wasn't hunger but a craving panging at me telling me to eat something. I know what it's like to struggle with disordered eating because you feel you'd rather starve than go back to the unfit person you use to be. And I know what it's like to find yourself back here again, contemplating all of the ways to drop a few pounds quickly. It's troubling, to say the least.
What's even more troubling is that, in reading the comments on some of these articles, I saw that a lot of people were defending Rachel's weight loss because it was for $250K, because some pro athletes and runners are the same size, and because weight loss like that could be attained healthily over that period of time. Now, my personal beliefs conflict with all of those reasons for a variety of different reasons, including the fact that I've never seen a NYC marathon runner in that kind of shape, and I doubt Rachel could run a marathon right now. Homegirl tripped up the steps. But it was the assertion that she was far healthier at underweight than she was overweight. Now whether that's true or not is up for debate, I suppose (she was about 15 pounds under and previously 130 pounds overweight). But the statement infuriated me! In my opinion, the mentality that being underweight with all the disorders that can bring is better than being overweight is the breeding ground for the unhealthy body images that lead many, especially young girls, to anorexia and bulimia and like disorders in the first place. And what I found even more astounding was that most of those claiming this was non-issue were men. *Stamps feet and slams doors* I cannot even go into what that all means, but I'll just leave it hanging here as an interesting observation.
Of course, I really hope Rachel gets whatever help she needs to be the beautiful, athletic, confident woman she's always wanted to be while also maintaining her health. And now, that I write this all, I realize I'm more disturbed by the some of the reactions than anything else. One thing that definitely didn't disturb me one bit Tuesday night? At-home winner Tumi's transformation!