In the last couple days, my news feed has been a flurry of mudslinging, "disgust", applause, confirmation and denial of an interview with a former Biggest Loser that came out recently.
The former contestant (who, personally, I like, admire for her strength and authenticity in her personal life) reports her story here if you want to read it. I'll sum it up for you: Kai (the contestant) had a crappy experience. I'll also sum up the rest of the comments, posts around the internet, etc:
A lot of people think she's amazing for reporting her truth and a Goddess Hero.
A lot of people think she's attention hungry and is the spawn of satan.
In all this noise, we're forgetting to ask the most important question:
WHY. DOES. IT. MATTER?
Other past contestants and viewers/fans of the show are defending it to "save its integrity". Most of the internet in that camp is quick to point out how the show is in its 16th season. It's inspired millions. It gives people hope, something to aim for...you get the point.
The pro-article camp is agreeing with the interviewed contestant that the show is exploitative, has a focus on extreme weight loss rather than health, and is potentially dangerous to uninformed viewers who think losing 30 pounds a week or half your body weight in 8 months is a wise decision.
Then there's the side I find myself falling on, as a former viewer AND contestant of the show:
Why DOES it matter? Well. It just doesn't.
When I was in preschool, I cried every day. A little girl wouldn't stop biting me. I felt abandoned because my mom went to work, when she used to be with me all day. I also hated that I was forced to wear clothes. (I really liked to be naked). I'm pretty sure I told everyone I knew how much I hated it. My mom and my grandma sympathized. Strangers told my mom I just had to "suck it up" and be ok with it. It didn't change the fact that, for *me* preschool was hard. But that does not mean the girl who had a hundred friends, who was never bitten, who was happily clothed, and loved being at preschool felt the same way as me. It didn't make preschool bad. It made preschool bad for me.
The Biggest Loser sucked for Kai. If for no other reason, because it just did. I am not going to confirm or deny what happens or doesn't on the show. Because, it doesn't matter. Again, and again, and again- it. doesn't. matter. But it does to Kai, and obviously to the Biggest Loser Evangelists and Anti-BL Rebels on the message boards. But pitting one group against each other, thinking it will change either one of their perspectives...it's pointless. It's like asking someone who firmly doesn't believe in God to go to church. Most people need to take a side, and are unlikely to budge, if, for no other reason but pride.
The truth is, it's all true. It's true that The Biggest Loser is inspiring (it inspired ME). It's true it promotes a kind of weight loss that is not realistic for most people with jobs, kids and/or lives (it's not realistic for ME). It's true there were some really crappy things during my time on the show that made me feel a myriad of emotions. It's true that some of the highest highs I've known in my life were during my time on the show and I made some truly amazing friends and lifestyle changes because of the show. It's true that after the show there are repercussions and consequences- both negative and positive. It's true that my experience is different than any.other.person who has ever been and will ever be in the show. Because I am different from any other person, as is everyone else. Our reality is based on facts, yeah, but it's based on who we are (baseline), and where we are circumstantially at the time. Now, as a 29 year old, self-employed artist/entrepreneur, mother-of-a-toddler, my "reality" on Biggest Loser, would be night-and-day different than it was when I was a 21 year old, fresh-out-of-college, zero responsibility, part-time nanny. My lens is different. Things that seemed like a big deal then, would probably mean almost nothing now. Things that seemed like a blip on my radar before, might be super significant. No way to know.
My point is, it doesn't matter what happens on "The Biggest Loser", or what one person says, unless you want it to. It matters to Kai, so if she wants to talk about it, let her. Who cares? There have been over 300 contestants at this point, and I'd bet 6 figures that not a single one of them had the SAME experience as another.
If you have to pick a side, feel free. But before you fire up your laptop and start bashing strangers on the internet (and I mean anyone- anti-BL rebels OR Biggest Loser Evangelists), remember you're fighting a battle that just will NOT be won. And ask yourself...why do you care so much?
Be healthy, be happy. :)