Dear Biggest Loser,
Over several seasons I have become a Biggest Loser fan. Sitting on the coach, cuddled up with my three children, I have watched hundreds of people transform before my eyes and embrace their “second chance” at living a healthy and fit existence. After all isn’t that what you encourage on a regular basis?
On the show you continually flash the disclaimer warning people to consult a physician before beginning any new diet and exercise program. You show clips of Dr. H meeting with contestants and discussing their health and well being and you give contestants tips for preparing healthy meals and challenges in which contestants need to assess the healthier food option have appeared on every season. Those who have visited your biggestloser.com website are faced with a Health Disclaimer that also puts an emphasis on following a healthy plan, meeting with physicians and event states “BIGGESTLOSER.COM IS INTENDED FOR HEALTHY ADULTS.”
So I’m confused as to why a brand that preaches so much about health and wellness would allow contestant Rachel Frederickson to step on your stage in front of millions of viewers on February 4 for the Season 15 finale at 105 pounds. Even before she was weighed in for the final time on Biggest Loser, it was obvious when she appeared in her silver dress, that this contestant had bypassed a healthy weight. Rachel had lost all evidence of the athletic physique and muscle tone she had when she left the ranch and her healthy glow was replaced by a spray tan and an all-to-thin ghost of a complexion. The expressions of surprise on the judges faces and their stunned silence when seeing Rachel for the first time was noticeably different from the surprised looks and prideful glances they showed when seeing other contestants for the first time. Where were the doctors? Where were the executives saying this isn’t the message we’ve been sending all season? Where was someone to take this 23-year-old woman’s BMI and to acknowledge that her sunken cheeks and bone-thin arms and legs, were not what Biggest Loser was all about?
I went back and reviewed your Tweets from last night. There was no mention of Rachel and her weight loss (thank you for that), but there was also no disclaimer, statement etc. about the unhealthy weight of your Biggest Loser contestant and winner. No retweets of the thousands of Tweets that followed her appearance from your viewers claiming she was too thin ,and her fans were worried about her.
I am one of those fans. As a former All-American swimmer and woman who is not even close to her competitive swimming physique, I understand not wanting to put on that suit and get in the water again. I understand defining so much of your life around being an athlete and then finding it hard to identify or recognize the person and the body in front of you. Rachel talked a lot about getting back into racing form and getting her life and athleticism back, and when she left the ranch it seemed as though she had already met her goal. But I’m wondering how easily Rachel could jump in the water and pump out a swimming workout at 105 pounds (or perform any workout for that matter). She is emaciated and I am heartbroken for her. She needs help and needs to realize that although she has just won a large sum of money, she has lost the battle with her eating disorder. She has just traded one extreme for the other and neither is HEALTHY.
I am grateful that my 14-year-old daughter did not have time to watch this season of the Biggest Loser with me. She was busy playing high school sports, staying physically fit and active — and living a healthy lifestyle. Last night by allowing Rachel to step on your stage, you could have possibly derailed the message we’ve been sending her about leading a healthy existence, as well as given the wrong message to millions of teenage girls (and boys) throughout the country about what you’re show is about. You have done so much good for so many contestants and non-contestants, and one bad decision could have undone all that. What message do you think your Kid Ambassadors Lindsay, Bingo and Sunny who were present in your audience last night went home with after seeing Rachel? So many amazing stories and successes were revealed on your stage last night (and congratulations to all the contestants, you look healthy and amazing), but the only image that still pervades my mind is of Rachel.
This is not a letter to berate Rachel. She was admittedly an emotional eater when she entered the ranch, and now it seems she has become an emotional non-eater, and she needs help with that. So perhaps you could document her third chance to become healthy. Maybe you can take another look at your rules and policies and remind contestants and fans of the show, that this show is really about healthy weight loss, and that no contestant who doctor’s deem at an unhealthy weight come finale time, will be able to compete for the grand price.
Rachel is a beautiful young woman, with so much going for her and I hope she realizes this soon before it is too late. Because 105 pounds is a dangerously low number on the scale, and I don’t have to tell you all the repercussions to her health at this weight.
Please do something to let me and others know that you are not taking Rachel’s situation lightly. That you really do care about people more than ratings, and that you really do practice what you preach. Because last night that wasn’t evident to me and, I’m sure, the rest of the world.
And Rachel if your reading this, good luck and be well. And when you’re healthy, I’ll meet you in the pool at any size, because as you and I know, we are all weightless in the water. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful message to take with us into the rest of the world?
Kelly Bevan McIlquham