‘The Biggest Loser’ finale is typically a night filled with tears of joy and proud trainers embracing newly thin contestants, but something went horribly wrong during the Feb. 4 Season 15 show. Here’s why the show needs to take a long, hard look at their ‘Rachel problem.’
The Biggest Loser‘s Rachel Frederickson was the contestant to beat all season. By the time the top three contestants left the ranch to compete at home for the big Feb. 4 finale, she’d won numerous challenges and looked fit to compete in an Iron Man competition. But when she finally hit the stage to weigh in, it became instantly clear that Rachel had gone too far.
‘Biggest Loser’ Rachel’s Shocking Weight Loss: Why The Show Has A Problem
The Biggest Loser has always had the same M.O. — take a group of morbidly obese people, train them almost excessively, teach them to lose vast amounts of weight in short periods of time and, of course, teach them which foods will give them the least caloric bang for their buck.
Which, in the past, has been fine. But when you think about it, it’s almost remarkable that Rachel was the show’s first contestant to have an alarmingly clear problem. While we root for these people to lose massive amounts of weight (because they need to), we typically forget that the contestants’ negative relationship with food doesn’t necessarily only fall on one side of the spectrum. When a troubled person like Rachel learns to work out and diet excessively, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their problems are solved — because having a negative relationship with food and body image doesn’t only apply to heavy people. If those issues aren’t dealt with at their source, it’s easy to see how a contestant could quickly switch from overeating to excessively under-eating.
Will The Biggest Loser ever make the show not about dropping huge numbers on the scale week by week? No way, and it shouldn’t. But clearly, something needs to change in the way they counsel these contestants in their “off” hours that aren’t spent at the gym. Bob Harper, Jillian Michael, and Dolvett Quince probably never thought that they’d see a BL contestant drop too much weight, but now they have, and it’s their (and producers’) responsibility to make sure that it never happens again.
(ASIDE: For Bob and Jillian’s thoughts on Rachel’s weight loss, see below. I’m not making this stuff up, folks.)
— O H Bennett (@oh_benn) February 5, 2014
How can they do this? First and foremost, by teaching contestants what a healthy BMI is and looks like, and how it’s more important than any number on a scale. A “normal” BMI is between 18.5 – 24.9, and Rachel’s has now dropped to about an 18. Second, by establishing a rule that a winner needs to fall between these healthy parameters to win the $250,000 prize and the title of Biggest Loser.
It’s too late to take away Rachel’s prize money, and I don’t think that that’s the right solution — she wouldn’t have lost that much weight if there wasn’t something going on there mentally, and nobody needs to deal with a humiliation like that, especially since Rachel is likely already reading all about what America thinks about her weight loss on the Internet. But the Biggest Loser can prevent another “Rachel situation” in the future if they take a good, hard look about how they do things, and it would be vastly beneficial to the generations of mentally fragile and physically unhealthy contestants to come.
What do you think of Rachel’s weight loss, HollywoodLifers? Did she go too far? Do you think that establishing BMI rules is a good idea? Let me know in the comments!
— Shaunna Murphy