‘Thin is beautiful’ makes for ugly television

Some of the 2012 Biggest Loser contestants

I have never seen a full episode of The Biggest Loser. I flicked over once, years ago, to see the contestants blind-folded and surrounded by chocolates.  There was some kind of punishment attached to eating them, and as the crackling of wrappers betrayed the weak ones, they were berated by their team mates. It was like a terrible dream. You know those bizarre nightmares in which the humiliations of your teenage years are combined with adulthood? Imagine a dream in which you, an adult, are shamefully gobbling choccies, on TV, in bike shorts, while other adults express their disappointment in you for letting them down.

I had a little cry that night.

Shows like The Biggest Loser and Excess Baggage create a forum for needy people to get on TV and nasty people to call them names. It’s not about “the journey”. It’s about acceptance, it’s about the Princess moment. It’s about having a bunch of  beautiful people congratulate you for making it to their world – however brief your stay will be. It’s even on television, which we all know is only for beautiful people. Well as far I’m concerned, these shows make for ugly television and contribute to ugliness in our community.

You’ve only got to follow twitter during an episode to witness the vile barbs people hurl from their couches.  “I will unfollow anyone tweeting nasty things about the Biggest Loser people,” I tweeted last year. “You know it’s wrong to treat others that way, you’ve known it since pre school, so don’t do it.”

It’s hard to insist the contestants be treated with compassion, when the network behind Excess Baggage chooses to publicise the series with full page ads depicting the celebrities crushing the channel nine logo, by sitting on it.  I mean seriously, is that how those clever executives were raised? I would be thoroughly ashamed of my children if they participated in the humiliation of anyone, for any amount of money or television ratings, at any age.

The Biggest Loser’s full pagers depict their angelic trainers as naked and faultless pillars of integrity and honor.  I guess I’m supposed to aspire to be like them, maybe tear the pages out and stick them to my fridge like I did when I was fourteen and thought I’d never be right as long as I was fat. I’m not even going to ask if those pics are photoshopped, because I couldn’t care less. They just have nothing to do with me.  I’m not fourteen anymore. I have pictures of my kids on my fridge, and their growth in contentment and compassion is the only journey I’m interested in taking with what’s left of my fortunate life.

I have said before that I have a perfect body. It has everything it is meant to have, although God knows, great things have been achieved by people with missing limbs and things, regardless of the ‘imperfection’ of their form.  My body is healthy, and does everything I ask it to.  I can “run around with my kids” even though they’ll try to convince you only thin people can do that.  I am a very lucky person, born in a prosperous and free country, where peace reigns. I refuse to believe that I am somehow unlucky because I don’t look like Tiffany in the buff.


Have a look at the advertisement for The Biggest Loser that’s been playing over the summer.

And now have a look at this. It was created in response to those ads.

Meshel Laurie is a comedian and broadcaster. You can catch up with her on Nova’s Drive Show with Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold 4-6pm on weekdays.

Did you watch The Biggest Loser? What did you think?


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