Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm a Loser Too

Hotels can be noisy places. The pipes moan, phones ring unanswered, and voices murmur on the other side of thin walls. To combat the curious cacophony around me, I usually turn on the tv. The cadence of the broadcast voices on any random channel are more familiar than the sounds of strangers.

Last night the tuner landed on The Biggest Loser. Of course I'd heard of this reality program, but I have never experienced it first hand. I found myself distracted from my work, watching events unfold in a horrified fascination. The gratuitous blubber shots, the close-ups on 300 pounds of spandex, the bottom-up camera angles to catch the double and triple chins; as a person of size I was disturbed by the dehumanization of the contestants. Yes, I know they signed the waivers and willingly waddled for the audience watching from home.

What a depressing picture it paints of weight loss and fitness. In order to attain a healthy shape, the show promotes "challenges" such as dragging 150 pounds of dead weight across burning sand in the desert sun. The trainers have dramatic moments with their spontaneous inspirational speeches right in the faces of their exhausted charges. In one scene, Jillian, the skinny bitch with negative body fat who does one-arm push ups, was shouting into the tear-streaked face of a fattie who suggested that her 250 pound body couldn't run on the treadmill set to 13.o. That setting makes for a 4:40 mile. I think thunder thighs may have been right in her assumption.

An acquaintance of ours, desperate to lose weight, auditioned for this program. She prepared a video tape wherein she and her husband worked in tandem to stuff her heft into some unforgiving denim. They hammed it up for the camera (pun intended) and rolled around on the ground, complete with moaning and tears. She didn't make the call-back for Loser. Instead she went under the knife. Almost a year after the gastric surgery, she still looks about the same to me.

Instead of promoting fitness, I suspect that this program might have the opposite effect on its viewers. Comfy in flannel, parked on the couch with Ben and Jerry, the prospect of fitness would seem even less palatable. Who can afford to leave home and family and live on a fat farm for 13 weeks to trim up? Who wants to sweat and strain like the contestants? Better to be fat and happy.


MJ said...

I swore I'd never watch it but I have gotten sucked in before. The only thing I did like about it is that it shows that, yes, exercise is uncomfortable but [in most cases] you're not dying. I needed a reminder of this during my Tae-Bo classses in which I felt actual anger at the instructor for not understanding how much I was hurting. I needed to know that it's going to be uncomfortable, and that's ok. That said, I agree that there are far too many "gratuitous blubber shots, the close-ups on 300 pounds of spandex, the bottom-up camera angles to catch the double and triple chins."

LJ said...

"Jillian" is a dude. Adam's apple equals male.

Anonymous said...


DiaBelo said...

Reality tv - it's not what it appears to be.