I’ve always wondered what kind of childhood trauma would drive someone to be a personal trainer. Specifically, the kind of personal trainer that is Jillian Michaels. You know — the kind that yells and screams in the name of “helping the client,” the kind that encourages crying during anaerobic activity, the kind that throws perfectly good fried items into the trash. The trash.
Well, now I know everything I need to know. According to HuffPo, Michaels felt fat and ugly (to paraphrase her own statement) in grade school and was relentlessly tormented:
“In eighth grade, I weighed 175 pounds and my nose was the size of a softball. Once, I was sitting at lunch and got surrounded by a bunch of kids who let me have it about how ugly I was — my unibrow, the size of my nose, the fat rolling over my jeans. It was pure hell.”
All of which basically means that every time we see Michaels screaming the face of some poor overweight person, she’s really just screaming at herself.
But that aside, I’m a touch torn over what to think about her. On the one hand, Michaels is ultimately helping people who want (we think) to lose weight achieve their goals. And sure, I don’t doubt that it was hell growing up like that. Kids can be cruel. But the way for Michaels to work out her deep-seated self-hatred is not to attempt to rid the world of any and all reminders of her former self by cultivating a Nazi-like attitude towards fat people. The way to handle her deep-seated self-hatred is through therapy. All together now — therapy.
The irony here, too, is that by doing what she does on national television, she’s encouraging exactly the kind of culture that led her to get bullied in the first pace — the kind that doesn’t accept anyone who doesn’t fit “the mold” (in the same article, Michaels admits to having had a nose job as a result of the bullying, which I know no one thinks is a big deal anymore, but it’s actually major surgery. MAJOR SURGERY and her self-esteem still sucks).
So what to think? Is Jillian Michaels a hero who understands other people’s pain and wants to help them, or is she a big bully?