Jan 282012

There is a massive list of things I dislike about The Biggest Loser in general, but I’m going to keep this on point.

(I promise. Mostly.)

Besides alleged deceptive practices, advice I believe is outdated and irrelevant , corny presentation… Okay, really now, the point.

(UPDATE: Thank you SO much to all those that have shared and otherwise spread this page. I am beginning to see some views from people searching on terms including The Biggest Loser and “find love”, “love yourself” and so on and so forth. I am personally very glad for everyone that sees this assessment of the associated advertising.)


For some time, these posters (as well as one of male trainer Shannan Ponton that I didn’t manage to get a picture of) have been prominently displayed around Perth (and I assume other Australian locations) to promote the newest season of The Biggest Loser Australia. The tagline of “Learn To Love Yourself” is likely to refer to the fact that the newest season of the show is using the gimmick of the contestants all “feel their weight has held them back from a love life“.

However, I have a big issue with the implications of this tagline and its context.

The people used in these posters are all lean and relatively athletic looking. You’d hope so, honestly, given that they are the trainers on the show.

Do we HAVE to look lean and athletic to “love ourselves”? I find it hard to express how irritating this implication is to me in text; it’s something I probably communicate more clearly in a verbal rant.

I seriously doubt that all people who are overweight and perhaps do not exercise are in that state because they don’t “love themselves”.

I am CERTAIN that people who are fit-looking do not all love themselves. There are eating disorders and the legendary “body dysmorphic disorder” to clinch that as a fact for us.

Many people probably think that this is inspiring. Many people who are not clinically overweight or heavier probably do not see an issue with this. Many people who are probably don’t either.

Are we seriously so fixed in our point of view of what kind of life is desirable that we can be certain that everyone who is overweight must not “love themself”?

It disgusts me that something with such an influential outlet as national television can put forth such a point of view, which may not be stated outright but I hardly think is only in my inference.

I want to help people who want to be stronger, faster, leaner, more muscular and healthier. People who don’t want those things? They can do whatever they damn well like and I don’t presume to know how they feel about themselves. It stuns me that The Biggest Loser Australia does.

I sincerely hope that The Biggest Loser Australia finally crashes, burns and dies a horrible death this year, under the weight of poor ratings and an inundation of people telling them “Don’t you dare tell me how I feel about myself”.

  13 Responses to “Marketing “The Biggest Loser Australia: Singles” in 2012 and my problem with it”

Comments (13)
  1. I was under the impression when it first started that it was meant to be some kind of attempt at thumbing a fitness/lifestyle/eating adjustment nose at shows like ‘The Swan’ while capturing the attention of reality TV viewers and trying to impart some good messages, but I think any merit it may have had wore thin years ago.

    • I can’t be sure as to what its intent ever was, obviously. I do know I found it less objectionable in the beginning, but I suspect that is more due to my state (one of relative ignorance) at the time, rather than the show’s content.
      Though it is unlikely the show has improved, more likely it has declined, I’d say.

  2. I was unfortunate enough to flick through channels during the first episode of this, and the first thing I heard was “xxx says she lives a happy life, but really, surely noone can be happy when theyre that overweight” or something similar. I wanted to throw punches.

    • It’s rubbish like that which is (one of) the reason(s) I can’t bring myself to even watch a single episode even to critique it this year. I may force myself to, though, so I can write another article and specifically relate my OTHER issues with the show.

    • See, it’s stuff like that which I anticipated as soon as I saw the advertising campaign. Ludicrous and entirely disrespectful.
      I am going to commit to watching roughly a week’s worth of shows in the near future so that I can post an updated and more complete assessment of this series in particular.
      I doubt it will be very positive. ;)

  3. I have actually watched each episode so far as I know one
    of the young girls participating. I congratulated her, told her how proud I was
    of her & that I think she is courageous. It’s all true. But I hope &
    pray, even just for her sake alone, that she finds it within herself to follow
    through for her health & wellbeing (spiritual, emotional & physical)
    whether on the show or off. I also hope & pray that her sense of sell worth
    is restored via other means, not because of a pleasing weigh in, mirror image
    or even worse – a boyfriend! Don’t even get me started on that! And I believe
    it is absolutely disgraceful that we (the viewer) accept this programme as
    entertainment. How a producer can prey on the hurts of others, sometimes even invent them to
    produce better television & palm it off as “self-help” makes
    me sick to my stomach. I’m almost 100% certain that not one of those
    contestants will find an ounce of genuine self-worth whilst on the show. All I
    can hope is that this experience will be a catalyst for something greater
    happening in their hearts, bodies & minds.

    • Sim, very very well said.
      Here is a major source of fear for me:Look at the stated goal of previous years – make contestants lose weight and give them the ability to keep it off in regular life.
      Look at the success rate – not good at long-term change (hardly surprising).Now they choose to believe they can help people’s self-image and happiness?They truly seem to have little to no regard for the wellbeing of the contestants they choose, as far as I’m concerned.

  4. Overweight people are generally more secure. Add that to the equation. Totally agree with what you have written. The advertising will certainly attract viewers but seams to undermine some (perceived) key principles of the weight loss battle. Glamorizing the “perfect” body shape with airbrushed pictures will lead to mental health issues even if people are able to gain a healthy weight.

  5. Hi Piers, thanks for your comment on my Biggest Loser post. I pretty much said all I have to say on the subject of self-love and self-worth there, but I could go on and on about the many other ways TBL irritates me…. 

    Nah, I’ll spare you. ;)

  6. Thanks for this. I’m in the process of fighting a dismissed review to the Australian Standards Bureau about these pics in public places since I was confronted with one (with two kids under 5 in each hand) at the shopping centre in Sydney. The message is wrong, they’re hoping the sensationalist will win them more ratings.
    I too had the same thoughts as you (apart from it being completely inappropriate to put a PG rated ad in a G area!), why not put someone “healthy” looking in the pic in a simple outfit. by healthy I mean within their weight range with a bit of cuddle to them! I hope you’ve gone further with this and had your voice heard via the ASB.
    If you feel like commenting on my facebook event page I’ll represent you in my complaint review.

    • Hi Suzi,

      Unfortunately, I’m going to have to (mildly) disagree with you here.Though I don’t think the imagery used in the advertisements is particularly well chosen, I don’t really take much offense to it either. I take offense to the implications of the tagline far more.I would also like to point out that your description of what someone who is “healthy” looks like is pretty arguable too. By all measurable metrics and common performance measures, I would be considered anywhere from “healthy” to exceptionally so. Yet I consistently measure as “underlean” on bodyfat analysis scales, allegedly unhealthy due to lack of fat.I must confess that your requirement for anyone depicted as “healthy” to have “a bit of cuddle to them” seems mildly offensive to me. Healthy can come in many shapes and sizes, sometimes “very lean” is one of them. I would agree that it is over represented in the media, but I am also sick of people saying things like “Real women have curves!” My wife measures at approximately 15-17% bodyfat (very lean), eats huge amounts of (mostly nutritious) food and barely exercises. She couldn’t get the kind of “curves” people mean if she tried and if she did she would have to be completely sedentary and eat ludicrous amounts of calories, incredibly unhealthy behaviours!I realise I’ve slid into another issue here.
      Anyway, good luck with your endeavour. I certainly wouldn’t be sad to see those posters go; I just don’t really care about the pictures.

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