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2014 Biggest Loser Finale: Is the show going too far?

Updated on May 14, 2014
Screenshot taken from the homepage of "The Biggest Loser" website at
Screenshot taken from the homepage of "The Biggest Loser" website at | Source

I was so excited to watch the season finale of one of my favorite television shows, "The Biggest Loser". It may not be as popular with my friends as "The Following" or "Breaking Bad", but I've watched this show since it started when I was 12 and was always inspired by the stories.

I flicked it on and was immediately hooked by the "at home" contestants, who were eliminated from the show but were still in the running for $100,000 after continuing to lose weight at home. It was so great seeing how far they had progressed.

Then it came to the three finalists. Bobby and David came on and everyone was so impressed, including the trainers, who hadn't seen the finalists since the regular taping ended (the finale is live). Bobby and David looked amazing. David was one of my favorites as he had overcome so much with his first wife passing away and his being so dedicated to his daughters.

And then came out Rachel. I was really impressed with her during the show because of her drive. She had been an athlete before and I could see that determine coming out again.

But when I saw her coming out on stage, I know I was not the only one who had a sick feeling in my stomach. She was so so thin that she looked sickly. I noticed it right away and I couldn't look away, hoping that maybe I had caught a bad angle of her and maybe she hadn't lost THAT much weight.

But she did. When she weighed in she had lost 59% of her original body weight - at at 5'4" she now weighed 105 pounds. I am 5'4" and I while I hover between 115 and 120, I honestly feel fantastic. I really couldn't imagine losing another 10-15 pounds.

But that's the thing...

I DO know what it's like to weigh less than 115 pounds at my height. About 8 years ago when I started college, I was basically anorexic. I lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time and thought it was okay because a lot of other people were doing it in college too.

Or at least I thought they were. My perspective was totally warped. I saw people working out and eating better than I was used to, and I took it to the extreme while most everyone else had a good balance. As a result, I lost so much weight that I was getting bad grades and losing focus. I forced people around me to eat in my presence so I would feel better about myself, and I wasn't fun to be around. I didn't lose so much weight to look like a skeleton, but I actually lost my period because I was so thin and my body knew it wasn't natural. My mom was freaking out and called the doctor - thank goodness I had her looking after me.

Here's my Hub about my experience.

Is Rachel too thin?

See results

So when I saw Rachel walk out on that stage, so many things were running through my mind.

"Does she know she looks sick? I know she thinks she looks great, but someone needs to tell her."

"Why does her family look so happy in the audience? Don't they know this is too much?"

"When is someone going to say something to her?"

I was relieved when the camera panned to Jillian and Bob and I saw the shocked and horrified looks on their faces. Jillian mouthed "Oh my God" and neither smiled. I know they know it was too much and was glad that they were aware and not trying to make these contestants as small as possible. When Rachel left the taping she looked so much better and healthier, and that was the last the trainers had seen of her. They had no intention of this happening. I have never seen it happen (admittedly I haven't seen many of the last few seasons when I didn't have TV and when I had night classes).

So now what?

I'm hoping NBC issues a statement that this drastic weight loss is not healthy and that "The Biggest Loser" does not condone this, and that they are going to help Rachel however they can.

I certainly didn't expect anyone to stop the show and say, "Whoa, this isn't right, Rachel is too thin and she shouldn't win!" What I was hoping for was that someone, Jillian or Bob or someone, would say during a break that maybe something should be said on air not to humiliate Rachel but to point out the importance of losing weight in a healthy way. But since the show is live I'm sure no one was sure what to do at that moment. It was one of the least exciting winning celebrations when the confetti fell down. I was honestly disgusted.

I'm keeping my eye out for statements from NBC or from Jillian or Bob. I was disappointed when after the camera panned to them and we all saw their horror, that it looked like they were enjoying themselves again. And on the Biggest Loser website, there on the main page is a huge picture of Rachel saying "Congratulations" (see photo at top of page). I wish they would downplay it, even though I know she worked hard to win. I really hope they say something not to save their image and keep fans like myself, but to show the public and other people who could be susceptible to an eating disorder that this should not be celebrated - this is not healthy.

I was glad to see after I finished watching the finale that there were a lot of others online who felt the same way. I knew I needed to post as well on this.

I don't think Rachel deserves to be humiliated over this. I definitely know what it's like to get wrapped up in the glory of losing weight and to really feed off the energy people give when they say, "Wow, you look great!" Especially when you're on a television show where the whole point is to lose weight for a better life. I hope to goodness that no one is telling Rachel that now - nothing makes me more upset that when I see someone complimenting someone who is way too thin (that's when I step in). Clearly being bigger really affected Rachel in a negative way and she will do anything to keep from going back to that lifestyle, but this is not the way.

Rachel, you've got so much ahead of you and there are people who can help, or people who are willing to talk about it if you want to, including me. Don't be afraid to reach out - that's what I had to do.


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    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 4 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you FlourishAnyway for your comment. I agree - it was an interesting moment when we saw the trainers' reactions because it showed no one from the show was monitoring the players after the taping. There was a clip on the show of the show's doctor met with Rachel at the end if the season and seemed to gush that she was at 19% body fat - I hope he also advised her that there is a point where there could be too much.

    • deecoleworld profile image

      deecoleworld 4 years ago from USA

      I'm sorry but I don't like the message of this article. Are you really shaming someone who lost too much weight? She worked hard and did something amazing for herself and you are condemning her because you think she looks sick and too skinny. I do not get women, as a female myself. You don't like when people judge your body and weight but you judge and condemn others based on their body/weight. And as a recovering anorexic person for you to judge someone like that is just shameful. I admire your courage to speak of your story but this is not helping at all. Women are supposed to unite, but we just find different ways to divide and tear each other down. You say its the media's fault and play the victim but come on.. you're just as guilty as the media for continuing to let this happen. Grow up please!!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      There. is a point at which losing more is not good. She was eating disordered before and traded one for another. Your commentary and perspective were compassionate and insightful. It makes you wonder where is the medical oversight on these shows?

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 4 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you all for your comments, Stages of ME :) VirginiaLynne, congratulations on your weight loss! Justyhemessenger, I absolutely agree that there is exploitation involved in the show, and product placement like crazy, but ultimately I do think the show helps people lose weight and give them the tools to improve their lives. I hope from now on they'll include a seminar on eating disorders.

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 4 years ago from The Great Midwest

      I like the fine line that your article walked as it critiqued the individual's flawed approach to weight loss without being unduly critical of the person spoken of. I have never watched this program. Its omission from my television viewing is not by accident. However, I appreciate the show's apparent focus on the heroic life saving, health building weight loss journey. Still, The Biggest Loser via its previews and highlights appear to exploit the the contestants on its show and by extension all those similarly situated. I admit this view comes from one who typically doesn't like "reality" shows.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 4 years ago from United States

      I don't follow this show regularly but have seen it periodically and I do like the idea that it can encourage people that they can become more healthy. I lost 50 pounds myself over a period of about 2 years and have now kept that weight off for over a year. I also exercise an hour every day and eat a very healthy diet. I had hoped to lose 10 more pounds (I'm currently in the correct BMI range, but more at the top) but I think it is important to be comfortable and to not have to think about food all the time. Going from being and overeater to an anorexic suggests that a person has just transferred one poor eating habit for another and that is a concern. I'm glad you pointed it out.

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 4 years ago

      Good article glassvissage, so honest and kind at the same time. You are so beautiful to share your own journey and relate the readers to your concern and not the attack so many are putting out there. You are right to be concerned, and thin does not always mena healthy. It's important for Rachel to have this win, for her self esteem, however, it is of the utmost importance for her to know she is a beautiful and a strong woman and she needs to find a healthy balance, I pray that she will see her beauty from the inside out and I know that she will. Especially with encouragement like you have displayed here. Well done :)