‘The Biggest Loser’ Is One of the Most Harmful Reality Shows on Television

On the eve of its return, the weight-loss juggernaut is haunted by disturbing reports from former contestant

Your Fat Friend
GEN
Published in
7 min readJan 12, 2020

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Jillian Michaels. Photo: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

CCelebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels seems to want it both ways: She insists that she’s “inclusive” when talking about people’s bodies, yet at the same time she can’t help but editorialize on the body of a plus-size pop star. This most recent series of public jabs isn’t a simple gaffe or slip-up — it’s a perfect illustration of Michaels’ legacy with The Biggest Loser, one of the most harmful shows in reality television.

Last week, Michaels made headlines for her unbidden comments about the body of pop star Lizzo during an interview on BuzzFeed’s AM to DM. Michaels claimed to support inclusivity just before accusing Lizzo of “glorify[ing] obesity,” quipping, “It’s not gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes.” The online response to Michaels’ remarks was swift and strong:

As the condemnations of Michaels’ remarks continue to roll in, few take into account her lengthy history of publicly shaming, humiliating, and even abusing fat people on her show The Biggest Loser Michaels first found fame as a personal trainer on the NBC prime-time juggernaut that ran for 17 seasons and ended in 2016. The show is slated to return later this month on USA Network, this time rebranding itself, like so much of diet culture has, as a show about “wellness.” But since its initial run, The Biggest Loser has…

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Your Fat Friend
GEN
Writer for

Your Fat Friend writes about the social realities of living as a very fat person. www.yourfatfriend.com