Fans Outraged As Woman They Cheered Into Developing Eating Disorder Possibly Develops Eating Disorder

The Biggest Loser Rachel Frederickson

Isn’t it funny how when you offer people a ton of money and prizes and recognition for losing a dramatic amount of weight, they decide to lose a dramatic amount of weight?

Last night, 24-year-old Rachel Frederickson of Los Angeles was awarded NBC hit The Biggest Loser: Second Chances 2‘ namesake title. The season 15 star, a voiceover artist, arrived at the finale weighing in at 105 pounds. She started the season at 260 pounds, so if I am to understand this little Wikipedia chart, Frederickson lost nearly 60% of her body weight in, what, 15 weeks? Possibly more, depending on how much time is in between the 14th episode and finale?

On her win, Frederickson says:

“I came here to gain back my life, and I did exactly that. I’ve found that proud, confident girl that has so much respect for herself.”

Not so fast, Rachel! The world has got to make sure they have a say in your body still, as they have since this season premiere in October.

Apparently, Twitter blew up with speculations and accusations that the contestant developed an eating disorder and thus lost “too much” weight.






The fascinating thing about those viewers is that they were cheering this woman on in exhibiting behavior that leads to eating disorders for months. Did nobody think that pushing people to lose massive amounts of weight in short periods of time while screaming at them, giving non-doctor-advised tips and offering large sums of money wouldn’t result in eating disorders? It’s also depressing that so many of the tweets I saw while writing this didn’t resonate out of anger toward the show itself; they were the product of body shaming.

Plus, this isn’t even the first time The Biggest Loser has been accused of causing an eating disorder; in 2010, finalist Kai Hibbard said the same thing:

“Unfortunately, what they’re telling you the contestants are doing and what they actually have the contestants doing are two different things, at least as far as my season goes. We were working out anywhere between 2 and 5 hours a day, and we were working out severely injured. There’s absolutely no reason to work a 270 pound girl out so hard that she pukes the first time you bring in a gym. That was entirely for good tv.

“There was a registered dietician that was supposed to be helping [the contestants at the ranch] as well… But every time she tried to give us advice . . . the crew or production would step in and tell us that we were not to listen to anybody except our trainers. And my trainer’s a nice person, but I have no idea what she had for a nutritional background at all.”

In between every “inspirational” story we hear of weight loss and how it made that person’s life turn into sunshine, rainbows and $50,000, we miss all the realities of how many human beings wind up getting there. “Healthy eating and exercise,” they say, but haven’t we heard models say the same thing hundreds of times, then years later inform everyone that they had essentially–if not literally–been eating tissues? Even a former weight loss consultant admitted to unintentionally encouraging eating disordered behavior, leaving clients with more issues than they had come in with because they weren’t looking to get healthy–they were simply looking to drop pounds.

Additionally, we have no idea if Frederickson has an eating disorder simply because she’s 105 pounds now. Just because the other contestants who didn’t lose such a dramatic amount of weight are not 105 pounds doesn’t mean they don’t have eating disorders.

Look, it’s great that lots of people are inspired to be healthy–something that thin people can and should aspire to be, too, though their health is often overlooked because society presumes that average or underweight = healthy. Does that mean we need to make dozens (literally, dozens over the past decade) of reality shows based on rewarding giant prizes for weight loss and food monitoring, which is actually just the network exchanging pounds for ad time? No, and shame on anybody who watched last night’s episode who got all upset–you’re part of the problem, you’re part of why this happened.

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    • Kaitlin Reilly

      I think that The Biggest Loser can be really inspiring, but I have always been weirded out by how quickly the contestants are supposed to turn around and lose weight, and how badly they are shamed when they only drop, say, 2 or 3 pounds a week (which is just about what you’re supposed to lose anyway, if not more!) I understand that these are obese people and the weight loss can be a quicker than someone looking to lose a smaller amount of weight, but I’m honestly not surprised that more contestants haven’t developed warped ideas about food. (I particularly hated the food challenges where it’s like “eat a cupcake, get this prize…” which they may not do anymore, I haven’t watched in a while.)

      As far as I can tell, these are people who have had issues with food for many years. People like to think that being a compulsive overeater is so different than having anorexia, but it’s basically just two different sides of the same coin. Are we really all that surprised if someone chooses to lose more weight than what we think is acceptable when they have struggled with food issues for years?

    • Lindsey Conklin

      People can’t win. If they don’t lose weight, they are fat, if they lose too much their anorexic. And shows like the biggest loser are definitely not exhibiting healthy habits to get in shape because they take it to the extreme.who can work out 2-5 hours a day!?

      • Nimue

        Yeah, and then shocker of all shockers, they gain some if not all of it back once they go back to normal living.

    • Candace

      The WORST thing ever, the thing that pushed me over to an eating disorder, was when my best friend from college and I made losing weight a contest. Who can eat less, who can do more squats: it’s awful. Getting healthy should be about personal accomplishment and learning what YOUR body needs.

    • Anna

      I imagine that the emotional manipulation used in reality TV doesn’t help the situation. As someone who still has food issues stress and emotions were a big part of my ED.

    • Anonachocolatemousse

      This is exactly why I don’t watch this show.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Glorious title.

      • MCR

        Couldn’t be better.

    • DA

      Who are the dumbass writers who even bother wasting their time writing something like this?

    • http://MsBehaved.Com/ Bianca James

      So awful. I weigh about 265 and the idea of losing that much weight that fast terrifies me. That’s so much more unhealthy than just being fat in the first place. And I can only imagine the psychological and emotional impact, not to mention the risk of rebounding.

    • rfoshee

      I didn’t watch the show, I actually only saw her walk-out and Jillian’s and Bob’s collective “Oh sh!t” reactions. They knew at that moment she not only lost too much weight but likely did it in an unhealthy way. Anyone else denying this isn’t looking *at* her and seeing it. Between the last episode on the ranch and the finale episode was 4-6 weeks and in that time, she lost ~50lbs. Or, in another way to look at it: 8-11lbs per week. She did this on a “controlled” diet of 1600kcals a day under “strict medical direction”, her words.

      If she were actually eating 1600kcals a day, it’s unlikely she’d actually lose that much weight that fast because most of the ‘fluff’ weight was already gone, she was down to stubborn fat at this point. She realistically had no more water weight to lose, so it was down to muscle weight vs. fat weight and, well, she clearly had gained no muscle weight at all. It’s not unheard of to lose 10lbs a week and there are many anecdotal stories you can read about people doing it but they almost all have one thing in common: nothing about it was healthy. From severe calorie restrictions, pills, starvation, bulemia, weird juicing ‘diets’, and so forth, an eating disorder is quickly developed. That’s extremely likely that that’s what happened here: she wanted to win so badly she went overboard and ate but didn’t keep the calories down or didn’t eat.