Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life atop my Soapbox...

Lately I have been angry. Not outraged or incensed, just a low-grade anger. It is weird.

My anger pretty much has to do with health/diet related stuff. I'm not really angry with individuals or things in my "real" life, just mostly diet stuff I see/read/am innundated with and some that I even choose -- and to some degree "people", i.e., the masses or people at large. Let me vent a little. Maybe I will feel better after I get it off my chest.

Rant 1: The Biggest Loser
I have written before about the Biggest Loser. My thoughts on this topic have shifted a bit. The Biggest Loser is making me angrier and angrier. I think that so much of the show is just that: show. Now to some degree that is appropriate given that it is, in fact, a show that is meant for entertainment purposes. However, I think that the Biggest Loser has elevated itself to something more than a show.

The Biggest Loser is a brand. The Biggest Loser is a phenomenon. And the Biggest Loser has appointed itself a force to educate the ignorant, huddled masses about how to lose weight. Here's a part of the problem, though: not all of us are as ignorant as they think. In fact, I don't think that many of us are. Maybe I overestimate America, but I don't think so.

Do you think we don't know that those burgers and fries are not wise choices? Last night on the show, they administered a quiz. At least one contestant (often many) could answer every question correctly. Many times, being overweight is not about knowledge or the lack thereof -- there are emotional reasons too. While educating the public is a noble goal, the way to educate them is not to insist they get a Biggest Loser Know Your Number (TM) test or buy some other Biggest Loser product. This annoys me. Believe it or not, you can get healthy without the help of Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper. Most WL bloggers can attest to this.

It also annoys me the lengths to which they go to push the contestants. I mean, if they are lazy, they need pushed. But let's face it: being in the gym is getting most of these contestants out of their comfort zone. It isn't necessary to push them to the point where they puke or pass out or get stress fractures. I have problems with the lack of respect for people's physical abilities or limitations. The morbidly obese cannot and should not be expected to be doing ridiculous crazy things in the gym right away. I hope that I am misinterpreting things, but I don't think I am. I think that, if I am right, the doctors who allow this to happen are morally reprehensible.

Rant 2: Banquet Frozen Pie Ad
The other day I was reading People magazine, one of my guilty pleasures, when I came across this ad. Please forgive the crappy picture from my phone.

This is an ad for individual sized frozen fruit pies. These are new from Banquet. When I saw this picture, I thought "Man, what a messed up ad!" The more I thought about it, the more annoyed/angry I got!

Here are some of my concerns:
  1. Do we really need to bribe kids to do homework?! Really?! This is their responsibility!!! No bribery should be necessary.
  2. Suppose that there is something you need to bribe someone to do. Teaching someone - especially a child - to use food as a reward is just terrible. As someone who has issues with food, teaching children to use food as a reward is something I really hope to and intend to avoid if I ever have kids.
  3. These pies have 370 calories each. Is that really a snack?! Or "bribery" sized?! And are they seriously not going to share this pie with each other? (i.e., do they each need their own?)
The list could go on and on. Suffice it to say I got really angry about this ad, but I will stop here.

So, those are a few of my grievances. I am not sure why I am worry about these things. Is this anger justified? Am I just really upset/frustrated and that is causing my anger? Is this pride/overconfidence (i.e., my thinking I have this figured out and now imposing my superiority on other people)? I am not sure. It is something I need to think about. I think I am just angry with the flood of bad and deceptive advertising for unhealthy food and unhealthy choices. I am equally angry with the diet/fitness industry when they employ deceptive or manipulative advertising to get us to use their products or solutions. It is hard enough to lose weight without having to sift through misinformation and/or deceptive claims from people who are on both sides: those who want us fat and those who want us to use their products to get thin. I am just over them all.

You are all welcome to join me on my soapbox, or explain to me why it is not worth being on. I value your opinions. What do you guys think?


  1. Your soapbox IS worth being on and I think you picked the right forum to express it. I totally agree with every word you wrote. And since I've NEVER (this is the truth) seen an episode of The Biggest Loser, one might wonder how I'm qualified to comment. That proves the worth of your rant. All you have to do is walk in the "diet" section of a bookstore, glance at the magazine rack in the line at the grocery store, walk past the fitness equipment section in Walmart, yada, yada, yada. The Biggest Loser is EVERYWHERE! Yes, it's a brand and it's purpose is profit. I don't watch TV at all and both of your rants is exactly the reason why! Preach on, Sister!

  2. I'm with you. I haven't noticed the BL marketing, but I'm never in the fitness equipment section, etc. But I'm pretty anti the arguably harmless Sesame Street franchise because of the way by barely two-year-old would request "Elmo cookies," and I suspect it's the same thing. (Don't even get me started on the entire wall of Thomas the Tank Engine toys at Barnes & Noble.)

    And yes! most people do know that burgers & fries are not a healthy choice. And, I suppose, getting morbidly obese people to lost huge amounts of weight in a manageable time for show production is going to require unhealthy behavior, and extreme pushing. And then it's going to set regular people up for disappointment - if so and so on BL could lose all that weight, why can't I lose more than 1-3 lbs a week? Grr. I'm getting mad thinking about it.

    And we've already discussed the pies, but you're totally right on there, on all your points. (BTW, when I think about homework bribery, I hear President Obama in my head discussing the ridiculousness of the eighth grade graduation saying, "You're *supposed* to finish eighth grade!"

    Feel free to feel angry on both counts. But don't let it eat at you ;-)

  3. I watch the biggest loser but everytime I watch I have issues with it. My biggest problem this week was people losing 41 lbs in two weeks??? Every season people lose extreme amounts of weight and I know there are people out there who think they can acheive that too if they work hard enough, and then they try and fail to reach such high numbers and give up. Even if you can lose that much weight in two weeks, that cannot be healthy. Anyway, I still watch it because I like to see people losing weight but I am torn because I feel like they are being used as pawns to provide entertainment no matter what the cost to themselves.

    And that AD, is so wrong in so many ways. I try really hard not to use candy as a reward or to keep my child quiet because that pretty much how I grew up. Food=Happiness=Overweight all my life.

    Anyway, I could go on and on, but bascially I agree with everything you said :)

  4. Ahh the Biggest Loser. I watch it. I like to watch and see people moving and losing weight - it motivates me to do something(I was watching on the eliptical BTW).. But I do agree they push too hard - especially the first couple weeks. Especially when they had them compete to win thier spot. Run a mile??! Obviously not a good thing when people are passing out and falling on thier face. FAIL! I did notice how the show this week focus more on the exercise and food... which I think they've cut out alot of in past seasons(focusing on "the show") Although I definitly see how unrealistic it is for people inthe real world. And I know it's demeaning, but the people signing up to this show definitly know what to expect. It might beharder than they thought it would be, but the know thier going to be pushed and yelled at.


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