By Jaclyn Munson
On Tuesday night, The Biggest Loser crowned Rachel Frederickson as the latest winner after her 155-pound weight loss. In 6 months, Rachel lost 60% of her body weight- but that’s not really the point. To be clear, the overall problem is not Rachel, or her weight loss. Scrutinizing Rachel by making her the central character of a larger, more complex issue completely misses the point. The problem isn’t the individual woman, but the pressure to achieve unrealistic expectations presented by society as being definitely and ultimately ideal. These projections of the ideal body image- thigh gaps, perky boobs, thin arms, etc. – exist as a phantom limb for many women. It is haunting.
The social media shitstorm that has erupted since The Biggest Loser finale aired has almost entirely targeted Rachel as a person. Tweets were presumptuous “she’s anorexic!” and mean “eat a burger!” It reminded me of being bullied in middle school for my eating disorder (not to say Rachel has one but the general response to her new frame was triggering for me) and reminded me of what someone wrote in my 7th grade yearbook: “Have a great summer and eat a cupcake!” Prior to being anorexic, I was bullied for being chubby. You just can’t win.
Imagine being Rachel. First, society decided she was too fat and now they’ve decided she’s too thin. Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to assess the dynamics in this scenario rather than make Rachel the target of online abuse masked as concern which, ironically, only makes a case for how women are heavily scrutinized for how they look?
Instead of making jokes about what she needs to do or eat, take a step back and think about what messages society sends to women about how our bodies should look. Fat-shamers, body image entitlists and folks who think you know someone’s body better than they do can see themselves to the door.