If you’ve been watching the latest season of The Biggest Loser, you’ve probably become acquainted with contestant Nikki, a 25-year-old mum who she says she hasn’t stood naked in front of her partner in three years.
“I just hate my body and I hate the way I look. I’ve been with my partner for three years and he still hasn’t seen me naked,” she said. “My insecurities make him feel like I don’t love him.”
If you saw Nikki walking down the street, you probably wouldn’t look twice. To me, she looks like a normal girl. A common girl. One I see all the time. Let’s be clear, this isn’t an attack on Nikki and her appearance.
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Nikki weighs 78kg. When that piece of information became public knowledge, I felt a pang in my stomach. Because you see, I also weigh 78kg. And as much as I tried to fight it, immediately the comparisons began and the self-doubt sunk in.
The overriding question that I kept asking myself was: If I weigh the same as Nikki, does that also mean I need to go on a weight loss show?
I understand this season the show it ‘changing things up’. They’ve re-evaluated their format and they’re trying to introduce more relatable contestants. It’s focused more on a contestant’s total health transformation rather than the numbers on the scale.
“It’s about a total transformation from the inside out…mind body and spirit,” trainer Shannan Ponton told the show’s 16 contestants during the season’s premiere.
But somehow, I can’t shake the feeling that this new format only further reinforces the insecurities of those watching, particularly women. In the past, for many, the contestants on The Biggest Loser have been removed from us.
They haven’t been relatable, which led us to think, ‘that’s not me’ or ‘that will never be me’.
It’s how I, for one, have justified my viewership in the past. I’ve been detached. That’s not true of this season anymore. Nikki’s inclusion in the show makes it hit really close to home.
From the time I was a teen, my weight has always fluctuated and I’ve always been conscious of it. I know weight isn’t a single defining factor that indicates our overall health. I’m taller than Nikki. I eat well during the week and treat myself on the weekend. I go to the gym regularly and look after myself.
Yet I also have a stomach I don’t particularly love. I haven’t had children like Nikki, who told her trainer, Libby Babet, her most hated part of her body was her "caesarean belly". But I do understand how it feels not to love certain parts of yourself. To constantly question how you look and wonder if you’re fat or not, and if other people think you’re fat or not.
I worry about the women at home watching. I worry about the mums who have just had babies themselves, many of which are vulnerable. I worry that we're stuck in a cycle of constantly trying to 'fix' ourselves. That if we lose those few kilos, we’ll somehow be happy and fulfilled. That all of life’s problems will be magically solved.
While Nikki and I don’t look at all alike, her inner voice couldn’t sound more familiar.
When I listen to Nikki speak, I hear myself. It’s made me feel horrible about how I look and it’s made that negative self talk creep back in.
And I can’t help but believe there’s nothing at all good about that.
Listen to the full episode of The Binge here
Has watching this season of The Biggest Loser been difficult for you too?