Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Biggest Loser is Sexist

This week I am going to write about the only Reality show I watch: The Biggest Loser. My office mate watches it, as well, and every Wednesday we talk about the night before. We have two huge issues with the show, but continue to be sucked in by it. The show has some underlying sexism that needs to be explored.

First off, last night, the black team had low weight loss. All but two of the contestants on the black team are women. My husband turns to me and says "They're all having their period." I said he was probably right. Then he says "don't women get on the same cycle when they live together?" Why he is asking this is beyond me as we had a roommate for over a year who was a woman and she and I were most definitely in sync. What interests me most about this topic is that the show NEVER addresses it. They never say that women tend to fluctuate water weight throughout the month based on their menstrual cycle. In fact, statistics show that women can fluctuate as much as 2-4 lbs during their period. This might not seem a lot, but when you're on The Biggest Loser, a four pound gain can mean you are going home. For me, this is more about addressing all the reasons that people gain weight and if they are going to ignore a natural bodily process because it is too controversial or "dirty," I probably should stop watching it.

The other sexist thing that occurs on this show is what people wear. Early on, the women have to wear sports bras while the men get to wear t-shirts. And the men get to take off their t-shirts for the weigh-ins, but the women have to keep theirs on. Why would anyone make obese people show off their stomachs on national television? My suggestion is to keep them all in tank tops. It's not fair to the women to have to wear sports bras and also not fair that the men get to take off their shirts.

So that's my rant for the week. February is a crazy month for me with birthdays and V-Week, so my brain is not in its normal Feminist Critic mode. I promise to get it there for next week's posting.


Shannon said...

Totally made the SAME comment about weight loss attire the other night - not right. The whole other issue is that the playing field is not level - due to biology, it's just plain harder for women to lose weight. Couple that with the fact that the men are SO much bigger, well - the women are screwed.

John said...


John said...

Actually, I meant to say that just because they don't show a conversation about period weight gain doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Second, I think you're implying that the men gain an advantage by weighing in after taking off an article of clothing. The fact is everyone has already weighed in and the one they show on TV isn't real. All the "big scale" does is display the weight which was previously measured. This is how they know which order to "weigh" everyone to create the most drama. At some point during the season. the men will stop removing their t-shirts and the women will begin wearing them. Yup. I know too much about this show.

marcsep said...

Actually I notice that after they lose weight, they no longer take off their tee-shirts. How does this make sense? A 400 pound guy takes his shirt off at the first weigh in and now months later at a weight of 260 he weighs in with a tee-shirt on. Hmmm...could it be that after the weight loss the number might be good but the body still looks unappealing???

Anna Kyker said...

I agree about the weight gain during that time of the month... And I think that splitting the competition into two categories.. Men and women would make more sense... How they should deal with fluctuations in weight is beyond me. There isn't a true fair way week to week, so it would make sense to factor in the average over time... Not just one week.... And as far as what they wear during the weigh ins... As ling as the clothing is not a variable from week to week then it won't affect the deficit total. If they wear clothing that weighs one pound during the initial weigh in, they should always weigh in with clothing that weighs one pound. I'm sure they account for the clothing deal, but I totally think it's unfair to throw men and women into the same category. My fiance and I are both trying to lose weight. I have lost 40 pounds... I'm at a healthy weight.. Ideal weight range.. But I have some more to go. I eat 1200-1300 calories a day and work out 5 days a week burning about 800-900 calories each time. I've lost weight at a rate of about 2 pounds a week... My Fiance still eats fast food loaded with a crazy amount of calories and works out the same number of days as me but only for about 30 minutes. He has lost more weight than I have. It is not fair at all to think of people on the show being in the same category as the opposite sex. Oh well... It's just tv and if it inspires people at home to take control of their health I guess it is what it is, but I do wish that they addressed weight loss from a more realistic standpoint.