I Don't Like The Biggest Loser

Edit: Changed the title to make it a bit less controversial and more representative of the content of the article.
 
With the release of the kinect, there has been a lot of discussion in the comments and the forum about Jeff and Ryan, and their bodies.  As a social scientist I have complicated feelings about this.  Obviously, there is some aspect of G.I.F.T happening here, but even in more supportive comments, it's interesting to see the way cultural ideas about bodies - and what it's appropriate for bodies to look like - come out in the comments.
 
Look at my own comment, posted on the Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout quick look.  I give both Jeff and Ryan credit for putting themselves out there in the course of all of these Kinect quick looks; in other words, I give them credit for exposing their spoiled identities (that is for not having "appropriately" sized bodies).  This reflects the sociological concept of "stigma," which was described by Erving Goffman in a book titled, imaginitively, Stigma.  In it, he describes the ways that people react to people who fail to meet societal expectations (he used people with disfigurements, disabilities, and cultural identities like race, gender, and sexual orientation that carry with them the connotation of inferiority or moral failing).   It's important to note that neither Goffman nor I is engaged in the process of actually determining whether these groups actually represent a "failing" of any kind.  Rather, we are both only interested in what the people in a given context think is a moral failing.
 
People engage in a variety of behaviors through which they attempt to sanction people - that is, punish them - for failing to meet norms for identity.  But punishing people sometimes means that interactions break down.  So when you're trying to make smalltalk with someone, you can't laugh at their disability, or they'll stop talking to you.  Just so, you won't bother criticizing the morals of the person checking you out at the grocery store because they're wearing a LGBTQ ally button, even if you are homophobic, because it would probably result in you not getting your groceries checked out successfully.  Instead, people engage in a behavior called civil inattention, in which they do everything they can to avoid calling attention to the aspect of the person or the situation that is stigmatizing (the elephant in the room, so to speak).
 
However, in some situations, the stigmatized person has so little power, or is held in such low regard, that people don't feel any need to avoid the conflict created by pointing out their spoiled identity.  Because these people have so little power, we think it is no threat to us if we sanction them for not meeting our standards.  The case of bodyweight is a particularly visible example of this in recent years.
 
People might generally regard being overweight as a sign of some personal failing in American culture; they may believe that it indicates laziness, or a lack of effort or gluttony.  However, these things would hardly prompt the kind of punitive response that people seem willing to inflict on overweight people in society.  There is in face a moral element which causes people (at least, in my belief) to feel that it is acceptable to ridicule and otherwise castigate people who are "fat."  Because there is some connection between BMI and health (although there are methodological problems with this research), people feel that they have a moral obligation to punish "fat" people for the "harm" they are doing to themselves by "not putting down the cake."  This sort of social process is probably meant to be functional: we punish people who are doing stuff that might harm society or waste societal resources.
 
Unfortunately, many things which are functional also have "latent functions," or unintended consequences.  One only needs to read this article describing the effect of participating in The Biggest Loser on winner Kai Hibbert.  She experienced extreme emotional distress, depression, physical injury, and any number of other negative effects in pursuit of a "healthy" weight.  On a societal level, people experience similar effects as they struggle to achieve ideals they can't possibly hope to achieve without unhealthy behaviors and emotional effects (anorexia, depression, other eating disorders, and so on).  The Biggest Loser contributes to these individual and social ills by portraying this drastic weight loss as possible, reasonable, and appropriate behavior (when in fact, it is probably none of those things).
 
As someone who has an obese BMI (at 6'1" and 235lbs, mine is 31) but who is in the gym 200+ minutes a week, I understand the distress that these unreasonable expectations cause people.  Moreover, I understand how those expectations can get in the way of a more healthy approach to exercise, eating, and body image.  Because of all that I've said above, I do hope that Jeff and Ryan (and I) choose to exercise.  However, I hope that we choose to do it for the right reasons, which are to improve our physical abilities and to feel better, and not to feed (pardon the pun) feelings of inadequacy and failure.  I believe those latter factors are the things that The Biggest Loser and its attendant cultural products are designed to encourage, and so that is why I don't and won't watch the show or buy products associated with it.  If Jeff and Ryan do decide to participate in an endurance run, I hope they'd choose another Kinect title as the basis for their pursuit of health, and that they would choose to do so because of their own desire for the outcomes it promises, and not because of the criticism they might face from others.

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Posted by tydigame

Edit: Changed the title to make it a bit less controversial and more representative of the content of the article.
 
With the release of the kinect, there has been a lot of discussion in the comments and the forum about Jeff and Ryan, and their bodies.  As a social scientist I have complicated feelings about this.  Obviously, there is some aspect of G.I.F.T happening here, but even in more supportive comments, it's interesting to see the way cultural ideas about bodies - and what it's appropriate for bodies to look like - come out in the comments.
 
Look at my own comment, posted on the Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout quick look.  I give both Jeff and Ryan credit for putting themselves out there in the course of all of these Kinect quick looks; in other words, I give them credit for exposing their spoiled identities (that is for not having "appropriately" sized bodies).  This reflects the sociological concept of "stigma," which was described by Erving Goffman in a book titled, imaginitively, Stigma.  In it, he describes the ways that people react to people who fail to meet societal expectations (he used people with disfigurements, disabilities, and cultural identities like race, gender, and sexual orientation that carry with them the connotation of inferiority or moral failing).   It's important to note that neither Goffman nor I is engaged in the process of actually determining whether these groups actually represent a "failing" of any kind.  Rather, we are both only interested in what the people in a given context think is a moral failing.
 
People engage in a variety of behaviors through which they attempt to sanction people - that is, punish them - for failing to meet norms for identity.  But punishing people sometimes means that interactions break down.  So when you're trying to make smalltalk with someone, you can't laugh at their disability, or they'll stop talking to you.  Just so, you won't bother criticizing the morals of the person checking you out at the grocery store because they're wearing a LGBTQ ally button, even if you are homophobic, because it would probably result in you not getting your groceries checked out successfully.  Instead, people engage in a behavior called civil inattention, in which they do everything they can to avoid calling attention to the aspect of the person or the situation that is stigmatizing (the elephant in the room, so to speak).
 
However, in some situations, the stigmatized person has so little power, or is held in such low regard, that people don't feel any need to avoid the conflict created by pointing out their spoiled identity.  Because these people have so little power, we think it is no threat to us if we sanction them for not meeting our standards.  The case of bodyweight is a particularly visible example of this in recent years.
 
People might generally regard being overweight as a sign of some personal failing in American culture; they may believe that it indicates laziness, or a lack of effort or gluttony.  However, these things would hardly prompt the kind of punitive response that people seem willing to inflict on overweight people in society.  There is in face a moral element which causes people (at least, in my belief) to feel that it is acceptable to ridicule and otherwise castigate people who are "fat."  Because there is some connection between BMI and health (although there are methodological problems with this research), people feel that they have a moral obligation to punish "fat" people for the "harm" they are doing to themselves by "not putting down the cake."  This sort of social process is probably meant to be functional: we punish people who are doing stuff that might harm society or waste societal resources.
 
Unfortunately, many things which are functional also have "latent functions," or unintended consequences.  One only needs to read this article describing the effect of participating in The Biggest Loser on winner Kai Hibbert.  She experienced extreme emotional distress, depression, physical injury, and any number of other negative effects in pursuit of a "healthy" weight.  On a societal level, people experience similar effects as they struggle to achieve ideals they can't possibly hope to achieve without unhealthy behaviors and emotional effects (anorexia, depression, other eating disorders, and so on).  The Biggest Loser contributes to these individual and social ills by portraying this drastic weight loss as possible, reasonable, and appropriate behavior (when in fact, it is probably none of those things).
 
As someone who has an obese BMI (at 6'1" and 235lbs, mine is 31) but who is in the gym 200+ minutes a week, I understand the distress that these unreasonable expectations cause people.  Moreover, I understand how those expectations can get in the way of a more healthy approach to exercise, eating, and body image.  Because of all that I've said above, I do hope that Jeff and Ryan (and I) choose to exercise.  However, I hope that we choose to do it for the right reasons, which are to improve our physical abilities and to feel better, and not to feed (pardon the pun) feelings of inadequacy and failure.  I believe those latter factors are the things that The Biggest Loser and its attendant cultural products are designed to encourage, and so that is why I don't and won't watch the show or buy products associated with it.  If Jeff and Ryan do decide to participate in an endurance run, I hope they'd choose another Kinect title as the basis for their pursuit of health, and that they would choose to do so because of their own desire for the outcomes it promises, and not because of the criticism they might face from others.

Posted by President_Barackbar

Umm, its a video game, not a treatise on marginalization...

Posted by damnboyadvance

Not one of you again. What does any of this have to do with the video game? It's not like people aren't playing this game in the privacy of their own home.

Posted by tydigame

Like any other cultural artifact, it's a representation of an idea.  It's perfectly reasonable to understand it as representative of greater ideas, just like it's reasonable to see movies and books in that same way.  Is The Birth of a Nation just an thriller with no political or cultural significance?  It represents ideas, and we have to deal with the ideas too, not just the game mechanics.

Posted by TurboMan

  

Edited by cnlmullen

So much of the non-fiction stuff you see on TV (e.g.  American Idol, Bridezilla, Judge Judy, Dr. Phil, ect.) just falls apart if you look at it from a sociological/anthropological perspective. It's too bad analyzing stuff like this doesn't change society or make it more reasonable. 

Posted by tydigame
@cnlmullen: but at least it allows us to be aware of it, so we're not just taking it all in passively.
Posted by ch13696

I don't know some of the things you talk about. However, I can agree that playing a game as mainstream as "The Biggest Loser" is not something you should be doing to lose weight. Nor is exercising just to fit into society. I just recently started working out and I'm only doing it because of the fact that I'm tired of feeling sluggish sometimes. I would also like to be able to work a lot more around my yard and house without feeling so tired.

Posted by 9cupsoftea

Maybe I'm a dumbass, but what's your point? 

Posted by Brendan

Excess body fat is unhealthy.  Stop turning a biological issue into a sociological one.  You're like those people who say "Ooooh, don't worry that you're overweight, it doesn't matter!"  It DOES matter, because it's un-fucking-healthy.  I will never judge someone based off their weight, nor does that matter to me in the context of who someone is.  Taken by itself, however, excess fat is bad.  Losing weight and therefore being healthy, is good.  It is that fucking simple.  This does not excuse the horrible comments during the Kinect chat, however.  That is a social issue.   
 
Posted by tydigame
@9cupsoftea said:
" Maybe I'm a dumbass, but what's your point?  "
My point is this: people calling Jeff and Ryan fat in the comments isn't just normal internet asshole behavior, it's a part of a larger cultural phenomenon, which is exemplified by the show The Biggest Loser.  So we shouldn't support something that gives people permission to be cruel, and we shouldn't give money to people who make stuff that encourages people to be cruel (e.g. by buying their products that license their brand).
Posted by Landon

I wasn't going to buy it anyway, so sure.

Posted by Vinny_Says

wait...can I still watch the show?

Posted by Afroman269
Posted by FancySoapsMan

I didn't read any of that, and I don't watch the Biggest loser. 

Posted by JJWeatherman
@tydigame said:
" @9cupsoftea said:
" Maybe I'm a dumbass, but what's your point?  "
My point is this: people calling Jeff and Ryan fat in the comments isn't just normal internet asshole behavior, it's a part of a larger cultural phenomenon, which is exemplified by the show The Biggest Loser.  So we shouldn't support something that gives people permission to be cruel, and we shouldn't give money to people who make stuff that encourages people to be cruel (e.g. by buying their products that license their brand). "
I admit that I've only seen the show once, maybe twice, but I don't think that the show promotes cruelty towards anyone who's fat. 
Posted by BaconGames
@Brendan said:
"
Excess body fat is unhealthy.  Stop turning a biological issue into a sociological one.  You're like those people who say "Ooooh, don't worry that you're overweight, it doesn't matter!"  It DOES matter, because it's un-fucking-healthy.  I will never judge someone based off their weight, nor does that matter to me in the context of who someone is.  Taken by itself, however, excess fat is bad.  Losing weight and therefore being healthy, is good.  It is that fucking simple.  This does not excuse the horrible comments during the Kinect chat, however.  That is a social issue.     "
It is not that simple to simply describe someone having excess fat as being unhealthy.  It is up to the person's primary care physician to determine whether or not the level of excess fat poses a health risk.  Being skinny for a lot of our human history was considered unhealthy and the ability to retain calories in the form of long lipid chains was a good thing for hundreds of thousands of years.  Excess fat consistently is a health risk and not an illness posing a causal threat to the body.
 
I agree with the OP that promoting unrealistic body images allows for latent dysfunctions both biological and sociological (it was funny seeing Goffman's name having recently learned about stimga) but I do have to concede that the post itself is not very clear in its organization.  Sorry but I had to dig to find the meaty bits.
Posted by tydigame
@Brendan said:
"
Excess body fat is unhealthy.  Stop turning a biological issue into a sociological one.  You're like those people who say "Ooooh, don't worry that you're overweight, it doesn't matter!"  It DOES matter, because it's un-fucking-healthy.  I will never judge someone based off their weight, nor does that matter to me in the context of who someone is.  Taken by itself, however, excess fat is bad.  Losing weight and therefore being healthy, is good.  It is that fucking simple.  This does not excuse the horrible comments during the Kinect chat, however.  That is a social issue.     "
But what the term "excess" means is not absolute.  It's socially defined.  Moreover, the idea that having "excess" fat is a moral failing is cultural, not biological.  Ane you'll observe that in addressing these issues, I never made the claim that being overweight is healthy.  I only implied that the pursuit of a "healthy" body may have health costs in psychological and nutritional outcomes, and that this should be considered in our advocacy for healthy behavior.
Posted by odintal

tl;dr 
i fully intend to boycott the biggest loser game and show because i really don't give a shit about either. 

Posted by I_smell

Wow you must be really bad at writing. It took like 6 paragraphs to say "the show encourages extreme methods of weight loss, when really you shouldn't do that".
 
I kind of agree, but I bet most people are just inspired to get fit, and rarely go crazy with it.
I bet there are some outliers for that who do take it the wrong way, but I don't know what you can do about that. Except fill the game with warnings.
Actually the game does tell you when to stop, so at least they're trying.

Posted by tydigame
@Tuffgong said:
" @Brendan said:
"
Excess body fat is unhealthy.  Stop turning a biological issue into a sociological one.  You're like those people who say "Ooooh, don't worry that you're overweight, it doesn't matter!"  It DOES matter, because it's un-fucking-healthy.  I will never judge someone based off their weight, nor does that matter to me in the context of who someone is.  Taken by itself, however, excess fat is bad.  Losing weight and therefore being healthy, is good.  It is that fucking simple.  This does not excuse the horrible comments during the Kinect chat, however.  That is a social issue.     "
It is not that simple to simply describe someone having excess fat as being unhealthy.  It is up to the person's primary care physician to determine whether or not the level of excess fat poses a health risk.  Being skinny for a lot of our human history was considered unhealthy and the ability to retain calories in the form of long lipid chains was a good thing for hundreds of thousands of years.  Excess fat consistently is a health risk and not an illness posing a causal threat to the body.  I agree with the OP that promoting unrealistic body images allows for latent dysfunctions both biological and sociological (it was funny seeing Goffman's name having recently learned about stimga) but I do have to concede that the post itself is not very clear in its organization.  Sorry but I had to dig to find the meaty bits. "
You're probably right about the organization.  :0)
Edited by Penelope
@Brendan: You missed his point entirely. He addresses the reasons to lose weight directly in his post. He is mostly commenting on the notion of how we treat the imperfections of others. 
 
While I think his call to boycott the show or related products is a little naive, his post shows a lot of effort  and has several interesting points. As far as things to get riled up about however, a show that promotes weight loss, even if it doesn't do it in the most responsible way, still probably has a better message than 90% of the other garbage on television nowadays. I don't watch the show anyways, but if I did this wouldn't be the rallying call to get me to stop.
 
Haven't we all found ourselves in the company of an overweight friend and had no idea how to react when the concept of weight comes up? My gut reaction is just to politely ignore it for fear of making them feel bad about themselves. 
 
Is this wrong?
 
Something to ponder.
Posted by Brendan
@tydigame said:
" @Brendan said:
"
Excess body fat is unhealthy.  Stop turning a biological issue into a sociological one.  You're like those people who say "Ooooh, don't worry that you're overweight, it doesn't matter!"  It DOES matter, because it's un-fucking-healthy.  I will never judge someone based off their weight, nor does that matter to me in the context of who someone is.  Taken by itself, however, excess fat is bad.  Losing weight and therefore being healthy, is good.  It is that fucking simple.  This does not excuse the horrible comments during the Kinect chat, however.  That is a social issue.     "
But what the term "excess" means is not absolute.  It's socially defined.  Moreover, the idea that having "excess" fat is a moral failing is cultural, not biological.  Ane you'll observe that in addressing these issues, I never made the claim that being overweight is healthy.  I only implied that the pursuit of a "healthy" body may have health costs in psychological and nutritional outcomes, and that this should be considered in our advocacy for healthy behavior. "

No, YOU believe that "excess" is socially defined.  It has been defined that normal body fat percentage is around 13%, and that anything more than a few percentages above that is unhealthy.  Even if you have no immediate cholesterol problems associated with your weight, energy, chemical balance in the brain associated with mood (associated with diet), and musculoskeletal problems are clearly associated with excess body fat.  People love to make weight into a societal issue because people plug a metric ton of emotion into the subject.  You can do it all day, but it doesn't change the fact that the intelligent desicion for people to make is to work at having a healthy amount of body fat.   
Posted by jakob187

I'm going to assume that people were talking some shit while the guys played The Biggest Loser for Kinect?  Yep, definitely G.I.F.T. in motion. 
 
Look, as a fat dood, I'll say this:  I don't give a fuck if someone is fat or not.  Be healthy, be unhealthy, be whatever.  Free will is a motherfucker, and some folks will learn the hard way when they clasp their chest from a coronary.  Me, personally, I ain't fat by accident.  If someone has something derogatory to say about my fat, then that's on them.  They aren't going to break me down or make me cry or anything.  I'll just turn around, steal their girlfriend, fuck her on camera, and then let the guy watch it while he cries. 

Posted by yinstarrunner

I don't think your reaching for the right audience here.  I highly doubt many people on GB will buy a kinect, and I imagine far, far less were actually considering buying The Biggest Loser beyond that.
 
Go find a forum for soccer moms or something.  You know, a place where people who wouldn't instantly dismiss this game reside.

Online
Posted by tydigame
@Penelope said:
" @Brendan: You missed his point entirely. He addresses the reasons to lose weight directly in his post. He is mostly commenting on the notion of how we treat the imperfections of others.   While I think his call to boycott the show or related products is a little naive, his post shows a lot of effort  and has several interesting points. As far as things to get riled up about however, a show that promotes weight loss, even if it doesn't do it in the most responsible way, still probably has a better message than 90% of the other garbage on television nowadays.     I just "
I'm not naive enough to think that people actually WOULD boycott, but I chose to phrase it that way in order to emphasize the political/social aspects of the game and show.  Mostly, I just wanted to say that people shouldn't be dicks to Jeff and Ryan, but to give some sociological context to why they might feel like that kind of unkindness is o.k. when it comes to weight.
Posted by tydigame
@jakob187 said:
" I'm going to assume that people were talking some shit while the guys played The Biggest Loser for Kinect?  Yep, definitely G.I.F.T. in motion.  Look, as a fat dood, I'll say this:  I don't give a fuck if someone is fat or not.  Be healthy, be unhealthy, be whatever.  Free will is a motherfucker, and some folks will learn the hard way when they clasp their chest from a coronary.  Me, personally, I ain't fat by accident.  If someone has something derogatory to say about my fat, then that's on them.  They aren't going to break me down or make me cry or anything.  I'll just turn around, steal their girlfriend, fuck her on camera, and then let the guy watch it while he cries.  "
And here comes my next post about misogyny.  LOL  :0)
Posted by Penelope
@tydigame:  You should read the rest of my post. You caught me in the middle of editing it. 
 
Too fast for me!
 
XD
Posted by wickedsc3

For the ppl saying that being fat is unhealthy you are correct.  Also just living in this world is unhealthy.  If we can eat a hole through our ozone then imagine whats going through our lungs, personally i think thats why cancer has gone up in the years but anyways.  But it is still no reason for anyone to blatantly be hurtful by calling jeff and ryan fat.  Overweight ok.  And im sure they know this they look in the mirror everyday.   Like they need a bunch of kids who still have a super high metabolism telling them stuff they know.
        This just kinda made me think of a question, if everyone was skinny would we still be attracted to them.  I mean would we cruise around and be like damn that chicks got a skinny ass, oh wait damn she does too, no wait look at that skinny little ass lol.....

Posted by tydigame
@Brendan said:
" @tydigame said:
" @Brendan said:
"
Excess body fat is unhealthy.  Stop turning a biological issue into a sociological one.  You're like those people who say "Ooooh, don't worry that you're overweight, it doesn't matter!"  It DOES matter, because it's un-fucking-healthy.  I will never judge someone based off their weight, nor does that matter to me in the context of who someone is.  Taken by itself, however, excess fat is bad.  Losing weight and therefore being healthy, is good.  It is that fucking simple.  This does not excuse the horrible comments during the Kinect chat, however.  That is a social issue.     "
But what the term "excess" means is not absolute.  It's socially defined.  Moreover, the idea that having "excess" fat is a moral failing is cultural, not biological.  Ane you'll observe that in addressing these issues, I never made the claim that being overweight is healthy.  I only implied that the pursuit of a "healthy" body may have health costs in psychological and nutritional outcomes, and that this should be considered in our advocacy for healthy behavior. "

No, YOU believe that "excess" is socially defined.  It has been defined that normal body fat percentage is around 13%, and that anything more than a few percentages above that is unhealthy.  Even if you have no immediate cholesterol problems associated with your weight, energy, chemical balance in the brain associated with mood (associated with diet), and musculoskeletal problems are clearly associated with excess body fat.  People love to make weight into a societal issue because people plug a metric ton of emotion into the subject.  You can do it all day, but it doesn't change the fact that the intelligent desicion for people to make is to work at having a healthy amount of body fat.    "
When you say, "It has been defined that..." who made that definition?  People did, and using some metric (it sounds like cardiovascular health is the metric you're using in the rest of the paragraph).  But suppose my metric for excess is different.  I could define "excess" much differently than you do, and there is no absolute guide to which of us is correct; it depends entirely on our values, which we may not share.
Posted by Brendan
@tydigame said:
" @Brendan said:
" @tydigame said:
" @Brendan said:
"
Excess body fat is unhealthy.  Stop turning a biological issue into a sociological one.  You're like those people who say "Ooooh, don't worry that you're overweight, it doesn't matter!"  It DOES matter, because it's un-fucking-healthy.  I will never judge someone based off their weight, nor does that matter to me in the context of who someone is.  Taken by itself, however, excess fat is bad.  Losing weight and therefore being healthy, is good.  It is that fucking simple.  This does not excuse the horrible comments during the Kinect chat, however.  That is a social issue.     "
But what the term "excess" means is not absolute.  It's socially defined.  Moreover, the idea that having "excess" fat is a moral failing is cultural, not biological.  Ane you'll observe that in addressing these issues, I never made the claim that being overweight is healthy.  I only implied that the pursuit of a "healthy" body may have health costs in psychological and nutritional outcomes, and that this should be considered in our advocacy for healthy behavior. "

No, YOU believe that "excess" is socially defined.  It has been defined that normal body fat percentage is around 13%, and that anything more than a few percentages above that is unhealthy.  Even if you have no immediate cholesterol problems associated with your weight, energy, chemical balance in the brain associated with mood (associated with diet), and musculoskeletal problems are clearly associated with excess body fat.  People love to make weight into a societal issue because people plug a metric ton of emotion into the subject.  You can do it all day, but it doesn't change the fact that the intelligent desicion for people to make is to work at having a healthy amount of body fat.    "
When you say, "It has been defined that..." who made that definition?  People did, and using some metric (it sounds like cardiovascular health is the metric you're using in the rest of the paragraph).  But suppose my metric for excess is different.  I could define "excess" much differently than you do, and there is no absolute guide to which of us is correct; it depends entirely on our values, which we may not share. "

You are beginning to make yourself look ridiculous.  You can go down the sociology student rabbit hole all day until we get to "I think, therefore I am" but that fact is that high correlation between (how do I put this?) "Awfully shitty things happening to your body-itus"  and excess body fat, which is also correlated to cardio vascular health (because we studied these things in a lot of people for a long time!) has been proven through constant study for about 50 years now.  It's not 100% certain, but if you have very much more than 13% body fat, bad things are most likely happening to your body (again, through study!).  This is why we consider excess bodt fat bad.   
 
For reference to your article, I clearly abhor what the people in the comments said.  Jeff and Ryan are great guys regardless of how well they take care of their body, and I will never look down on somone for being overweight.  That being said, I'm not going to trade brains for sympathy and say that we should ban the societal push for being healthy.  That societal push has scientific backing that what The Biggest Loser is selling is good for people.  I have seen the show a few times.  In a vacuum it does not promote anything but healthy living, which is a great message.  People will be assholes regardless of what is the popular opinion, that show does nothing to promote being an asshole more than anything else does.
Posted by tydigame
@Brendan:  We could keep going around about this, but I don't think we're going to come to an agreement about the definitional aspects of this discussion.  However, I'm more than happy to accept that (if you are) in light of your condemnation of the abusive comments.
Posted by SeriouslyNow
@Brendan said:
"
Excess body fat is unhealthy.  Stop turning a biological issue into a sociological one.  You're like those people who say "Ooooh, don't worry that you're overweight, it doesn't matter!"  It DOES matter, because it's un-fucking-healthy.  I will never judge someone based off their weight, nor does that matter to me in the context of who someone is.  Taken by itself, however, excess fat is bad.  Losing weight and therefore being healthy, is good.  It is that fucking simple.  This does not excuse the horrible comments during the Kinect chat, however.  That is a social issue.     "
Excessive negative stigmatisation is probably more unhealthy on the whole.  The Biggest Loser quite clearly trades off the stigma - even in its name.  Weight gain in humans (when it's not genetic or due to medical circumstance like some forms of encephalitis) is primarily a function emotional context.  Humans have long sought the succor of food.  Food is comforting because it represents safety.  Unfortunately in Corporate America it also represents massive income because Advertising plays on that aspect often appealing to people's desires for safety and comfort to advertise food.  Most ads selling food depict people in groups enjoying food (which appeals to the base desires for comfort in groups, safety in numbers and social acceptance) or have caricatures of seemingly friendly archetypes (once again representing comfort at some level) attached to their campaigns.  So I find it really insulting that a show like The Biggest Loser exists at all.  It trades off the excessive negative stigma which advertisers have created as they have fed Western People to Excess in order to earn a buck.  On one side we have people who seek and are rewarded by comfort in consuming vast amounts of food, people who are merely following rules laid down by other people who seek to earn an income from that desire for comfort while on the other side we have people who are made to feel ashamed for consuming these vast amounts of food to the point where their bodies are held up as an example of failure.  Meanwhile the advertisers, manufacturers and corporations make money from both ends of the deal and people on the whole really don't change for the better, they just end up feeling more worthless and less valued.
Posted by 9cupsoftea
@SeriouslyNow: I completely agree with you that corporate america is in the business of creating emotional needs, but it's up to people themselves to recognise that and exhibit some discern. You can't have individual freedom, then complain that you don't know how to use it.     
Posted by scarace360

Fat people how do they work?

Posted by tydigame
@9cupsoftea said:
" @SeriouslyNow: I completely agree with you that corporate america is in the business of creating emotional needs, but it's up to people themselves to recognise that and exhibit some discern. You can't have individual freedom, then complain that you don't know how to use it.      "
Right, that's the underlying rationale for me posting this in the first place: read more deeply into cultural products.
Posted by shivermetimbers

Someone elses opinion about you shouldn't make you feel depressed. If it does, it's an esteem issue. The game isn't part of the problem.

Posted by SeriouslyNow
@9cupsoftea said:
" @SeriouslyNow: I completely agree with you that corporate america is in the business of creating emotional needs, but it's up to people themselves to recognise that and exhibit some discern. You can't have individual freedom, then complain that you don't know how to use it.      "
It is up to individuals but then what is an individual these days?  Is it their social media face?  Is it their job?  Their income?  Their family?  Their consumer products owned?  Their religious context?  Their cultural background?  Their body shape? 
 
What is the compass for delineating said individual from everyone else?
 
It's really hard to tell these days.
Posted by ryanwho

Snesitive fat guy thinks he's an internet psychologist.

Posted by tydigame
@ryanwho said:
" Snesitive fat guy thinks he's an internet psychologist. "
Internet SOCIOLOGIST, please.
Edited by Penelope

To play Devil's Advocate even further I believe that you can't have an absence of criticism either or it leads to things like this:
 
  http://english.pravda.ru/world/americas/04-05-2006/79855-americans-0/
 
America has the largest obesity problem in the world, and even if you include internet teasing we are still the most polite about it. I've lived abroad for years and if you think being overweight in the U.S. is tough try doing it in Japan or Taiwan. I have heard people say "Oh, you need to lose weight or you will never get a boyfriend!" to little asian girls who weigh no more than 130lbs. 
 
Dieting is a cultural norm there and CONSTANT worry for young women. Girls most americans would never think of as overweight are encouraged to diet. Being overweight is a huge source of pressure and social stigma.
 
You know what though?
 
It works. Hurt feelings aside it is incredibly rare to see an overweight person in Asia. Coming back to the U.S. after some time abroad is a bit like coming back to a spoiled fat child that is too immature and wailingly proud to handle criticism healthily. Calling people fat is rude, so we don't do it. The cultural norm then changes to where it's ok to be overweight and people feel less pressure about their health and how they look so they make little or no effort to control it.
 
I believe that the coddling of American's feelings in recent decades has been to the detriment of our society. Every child is special and naturally gifted? Hearing that message your whole life can lead to some pretty warped views.
 
 http://www.thinkdesigninteract.com/misc/confidence-or-stupidity/
 
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKTfaro96dg
 
Look, I love Jeff and Ryan. Awesome guys who, in all honesty, I kind of idolize. They are however overweight, and you know what? It might actually be good for them if they didn't have a team of people defending them from the people who point it out. 
 
Required Viewing 

Edited by tydigame
@Penelope said:

" To play Devil's Advocate even further I believe that you can't have an absence of criticism either or it leads to things like this:
 
  http://english.pravda.ru/world/americas/04-05-2006/79855-americans-0/
 
America has the largest obesity problem in the world, and even if you include internet teasing we are still the most polite about it. I've lived abroad for years and if you think being overweight in the U.S. is tough try doing it in Japan or Taiwan. I have heard people say "Oh, you need to lose weight or you will never get a boyfriend!" to little asian girls who weigh no more than 130lbs. 
 
Dieting is a cultural norm there and CONSTANT worry for young women. Girls most americans would never think of as overweight are encouraged to diet. Being overweight is a huge source of pressure and social stigma.
 
You know what though?
 
It works. Hurt feelings aside it is incredibly rare to see an overweight person in Asia. Coming back to the U.S. after some time abroad is a bit like coming back to a spoiled fat child that is too immature and wailingly proud to handle criticism healthily. Calling people fat is rude, so we don't do it. The cultural norm then changes to where it's ok to be overweight and people feel less pressure about their health and how they look so they make little or no effort to control it.
 
I believe that the coddling of American's feelings in recent decades has been to the detriment of our society. Every child is special and naturally gifted? Hearing that message your whole life can lead to some pretty warped views.
 
 http://www.thinkdesigninteract.com/misc/confidence-or-stupidity/
 
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKTfaro96dg
 
Look, I love Jeff and Ryan. Awesome guys who, in all honesty, I kind of idolize. They are however overweight, and you know what? It might actually be good for them if they didn't have a team of people defending them from the people who point it out. 
 
Required Viewing  "

Ok, but dude, this is what I'm saying about different values.  You're saying it's better for people to be pathologically obsessed with their weight, skirt the edges of anorexia, and be thin, than to be fatter, but not have all of those other problems.  I think it's better for people to have their psychological well-being intact.  Both of those things have health benefits attached to them.
 
Edit 11:17PM:
 
I realized I hadn't fully made my point here.  If we assume that your position and mine are morally equal (i.e. it comes down to values) the reason that I feel I have a grievance to voice is because (and I think the comments illustrate this) the dominant view is that fat people are morally flawed (i.e. they have a stigmatized identity).  But I think it's unfair to consider it to be a moral failing on their part that they don't share your perspective about eating and weight, etc.
Posted by Icemael

Sorry, I'm not going to boycott something because it might hurt fat people with low self-esteem's feelings.

But then, I'm not buying the game in the first place, because I'm not fat.

Posted by awesomeusername
@tydigame said:

 (he used people with disfigurements, disabilities, and cultural identities like race, gender, and sexual orientation that carry with them the connotation of inferiority or moral failiing).    
You misspelled failing.
Posted by Shadow

Who...cares?

Posted by tydigame
@awesomeusername: Corrected.
Posted by TimesHero

I took one glance at the ugly wall of text OP had and I already knew he was rerarded. I have half a mind just to go out and buy it now BECAUSE of it.

Posted by Three0neFive
@TimesHero said:
" I took one glance at the ugly wall of text OP had and I already knew he was rerarded. I have half a mind just to go out and buy it now BECAUSE of it. "
quoting this just so you can't fix that typo
Posted by ChristOnIce

"Social scientist" is more or less another term for "not a scientist."
 
Get some empirical data through strict methodology, and then you can tout credentials with authority.  Soft science is rife with the sort of bullshittery you display here; projected inferences without solid evidence based on personal bias =/= science.

Posted by Red

I dunno, people seem pretty damn happy at the end of that show. I don't watch it, but I think encouraging people to lose weight is a perfectly noble goal, and while going overboard is a little unhealthy, it's also one of the best ways to quit. 
 
I'm pleasantly plump myself, and as terrible as the game looks, I don't feel discriminated or offended the least bit by any parts of the TV show. Probably one of the most interesting parts of Super Size Me was when the guy related an anecdote about an obese woman telling off someone for smoking, while eating a fattening meal. It's an unhealthy lifestyle, almost always brought upon either the person themselves, or their parents for feeding them crap and teaching them little about nutrition, one that should be stopped.  

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