If you’d never seen this season’s crowned Biggest Loser Rachel Frederickson before in your life, and she was standing in front of you at Starbucks, would you be bothered by her appearance? If you didn’t know she weighs 105lbs, or she used to be extremely overweight, would you still feel the need to comment on her body? Would you feel so offended by her appearance you’d start an online petition shaming her for doing exactly what society asked her to do in the first place? Quite frankly, I’m more disturbed by America’s response to Rachel Frederickson’s weight loss than I am by Rachel Frederickson’s weight loss.
According to the Palm Beach Post, “At 5-feet-4 and 105 pounds, her body mass index (BMI) is 18, which is underweight. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, meaning a normal weight for that height would be 108 to 145 pounds.” Suddenly, everyone in America is sharing their expert opinion on whether or not Rachel’s weight is healthy based on this arbitrary form of measurement. For a point of comparison, at 5-feet-7 and 165 pounds, my BMI is 25.8, putting me in the overweight category. To be considered normal weight, a woman my height should be 118 to 159 pounds. I wear a size 6/8 and I’m considered overweight; Rachel wears a size 0/2 and she’s considered underweight; that doesn’t create a lot of room for everyone else in between. Women’s bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and while I can’t officially speak to Rachel Frederickson’s health, neither can you.
Interestingly enough, both the second and third place finalists lost more weight than Rachel, in the same amount of time, and their percentages were not far behind hers. If David Brown (who lost 222lbs) won, would we be speculating he is too thin, and accusing him of turning to anorexia to “cheat” the competition? They started and ended the competition at the same time, so why isn’t anyone shaming David for losing so much weight? Nobody is out here worried about how David’s dramatic weight loss is going to impact the body image of all the overweight boys in America. That’s because overweight boys are expected to grow out of it, and overweight girls are pitied, shamed, and expected to play a passive role in the latest girl power movement—because you don’t really want girls to feel empowered, you just want them to think you want them to feel empowered. Rachel Frederickson doesn’t fit the mold of what you think is an acceptable transformation story. So now you’re mad.
When she was 260 pounds, you felt sorry for her, you felt like you had one-up on her. When she was revealed on makeover week in a relatable size 6 dress, you rooted for her even though you didn’t really think she stood a fighting chance against Bobby and David. The former high school swimmer from middle America was still the chubby girl next door healing from the pain of a broken heart. How cute, right? What you didn’t realize was Rachel Frederickson is a fierce competitor, providing the type of plot twist producers were hoping for when they cast a three-time state champion swimmer.
You’re mad when Whitney Thore has the nerve to confidently get in front of a camera and dance to her heart’s content, and you’re mad when Rachel Frederickson comes back for the Biggest Loser finale to reveal the greatest loss in the history of the competition. You’re mad because someone else is going after what they want, because somehow you think that means they’re taking something from you. Our society doesn’t know how to be happy for other people because we’re always looking for something to be mad about. The next time you find your panties all in a bunch about someone else’s success (or beliefs/opinons/appearance/weight/lifestyle), take a look at yourself and the mirror and ask, “Why am I really mad?” I guarantee it has nothing to do with the other person.
Go ahead, Rachel Frederickson, if you have this many haters, you must be doing something right!
Disclaimer: This post was written as social commentary and does not reflect the weight loss philosophy of Whole Me, Best Me. As evidenced by the weekly Transformation Tuesday feature, this blog stands by gradual, long-term, sustainable weight loss, and does not endorse any quick-fix weight loss programs (or quick-fix anything for that matter). It is the opinion of this blog the Biggest Loser brand does not portray a realistic perception of healthy weight loss, as results are not typical of a six month transformation and do not consistently yield long-term weight loss.