Wednesday, April 16, 2008

biggest loser's first woman winner

I haven't been watching "The Biggest Loser." I feel distrustful of it, like there's something inherently wrong there. And yet it's so much better than "The Swan" and other shows that are egregious in their misogynist messages.

But I did catch the finale last night, and I watched Ali Vincent step up on the scale, looking amazing and proud and buff. This is Season 5, and she's the first female to win the show. It seems insane to me that they have the women competing against the men in the first place, just given the difference in muscle mass and how differently men and women burn calories and fat. But I digress.... I'm waiting for Jenn Pozner and crew to do an analysis. Jenn is writing a book for Seal about gender (and race and class) issues in reality TV. And how Reality TV is particularly harmful to women. These shows are becoming so much a part of our daily awareness that it's hard to parse out all the issues. "The Biggest Loser" taps into our national obsession with weight, and the show's competitive set-up, in which the contestants have a weigh-off each week, is where it's way more cut-throat than it is about all the contestants living healthier, better lives. I'm sure a Kum Ba Yah weight-loss show wouldn't get as many viewers. Nevertheless....

So, Ali, good on you. She does look great. And kudos. These people go on the show to shake up their lives, and I just hope that the changes are long-lasting, and that the show is actually inspiring people at home rather than propagating weightism.



Rachel said...

I don't watch pretty much any TV so have also never seen the show, but my friend Poppi Kramer was one of the winners (the at home winner - lost over 100 pounds) and I think is really happy with her time on the show. She's a comedian, though, so it makes more sense for her career-wise as well. I think if it inspires people who have wanted to lose weight, go for it, but I also think reality TV has reached the point where any of us could gt our own show if we just spin it right. People tell me the names of some of these shows and I could swear they're making it up, but they're not!

PastaQueen said...

A lot of my blog readers watch this show and find it very inspirational, but I've never gotten into it. I've watched parts of two or three episodes, but it's never clicked with me nor have I felt compelled to keep watching.

People on the weight-loss blogs complain about how the women have to compete against the men too and how biologically this is unfair. Women have more body fat to begin with and men have more lean muscle mass so they're physically capable of burning more calories in a day than a woman. Another complaint I've heard is that the show makes people at home set unrealistic weight loss expectations. The people on the show can lose 7 pounds a week because they are away from their real lives and do nothing but workout. Then people at home can be discouraged if they "only" lost 2 pounds a week, which in reality (not a reality show) is a great rate of loss.

One thing I do like is that both of the hosts of the show, Caroline Rhea and Allison Sweeney, are women who've battled their weight. And the show does seem to give people hope that weight loss is possible and that they don't have to be trapped in an overweight body for the rest of their lives if they don't want to.

Tara said...

Don't get me wrong I enjoy the show but working in nutrition and weight management I can certainly see where this show is inspiring but also feeds people's unrealistic expecations. People are so impatient as it is with weight loss and lead such hectic lives that eating healthy and moving is so low on the priority list. Overall, I think it can show people that feel it's impossible to lose weight that it is in fact possible with hard work and some serious changes to their lifestyle. Jennette, I can't wait to read your book and recommend it to my clients ; )