This led me to watching a marathon of MTV’s I Used To Be Fat.
There are several reasons I want to post about this Biggest Loser-esque weight loss show.
One being the fact that I know one of the trainers somehow from college but I can’t remember how.
I hope I didn’t date him. I can’t be old enough to forget people I’ve dated yet, can I?
I’m thinking he either worked at a gym I belonged to or dated one of my friends, but for the life of me I cannot remember. It’s driving me crazy!
Maybe he’ll read this and tell me where I know him from. That would be cool. And humilating. Especially if we dated.
Anyways, that’s not really the point here.
I’m not going to go into why I think massive weight loss in short periods of time is crazy and dangerous – I’m not a doctor or an expert on the matter.
What really struck me about the show was the parental support, or lack thereof, that was featured in each episode.
The interesting thing about this show, as opposed The Biggest Loser, was that the entire process takes place in the home. It’s also geared toward graduating seniors who are still living at home with their parents.
It was shocking to me how many of the parents on the show were either not supportive of their kid’s decision to get healtheir or were supportive for terrible reasons.
One girl’s dad was obsessed with marrying her off. He flat out stated that guys didn’t want a girl without a good figure so he wanted his daughter to lose weight so she could find Mr. Right.
The girl was 18! What dad is that preoccupied with their 18-year-old daughter’s betrothal? It was bizarre.
He went on and on about it, and you could tell it created a huge insecurity in the girl because her father didn’t think she was pretty enough to date.
It seemed to me, the real problem was not the 100 pounds of excess weight the girl was carrying, it was the emotional burden her father had placed on her.
Another girl’s mom was a single parent and dependent upon her daughter to help around the house. She made her daughter feel guilty for spending time working out instead of doing the grocery shopping and cleaning for the house.
To be fair, these kids were working out too much (4+ hours per day to make the extreme goals they had set for themselves) but I still felt it was very insensitive for the mother to make her kid feel bad for taking steps toward a healthier life.
Our parents aren’t perfect, but ideally they should support healthy behavior and condemn unhealthy habits. This just wasn’t what I was seeing on the show.
Another mother claimed that even though her daughter was healthy and popular (the girl featured in the picture above) she still “wanted her to be perfect”.
It got me to thinking about just how much the influence of our parents/parental figures impacts the way we treat ourselves.
I went through something similar when I was growing up. My mom and I would often diet together. She would comment on my stomach getting bigger and would engage in negative self-talk because she wasn’t at her ideal weight.
At one point I remember even taking diet pills together. At the time, it seemed normal, but looking back I realize how seriously it shaped my perception of weight and self-worth.
I fully believe that these teens wouldn’t have had such large issues with weight if they weren’t being told constantly by their moms and dads that they weren’t good enough.
These parents could have an Operation Beautiful approach to the matter, telling their children that they are beautiful just the way they are while reinforcing the fact that we only have one body in this life and we should take care of it.
They could also have led by example.
I can only remember two parents in the entire string of shows I watched that weren’t overweight or obese, and while a few of them recognized that they had contributed to their child’s problem most of them did not.
I don’t mean this to sound preachy, the show just rubbed me the wrong way. I get exhausted by how many messages we get each day that thinness is all that matters in life.
Thinness and fitness is great, but there is an overall lack of balance in the equation.
We need to be reminded that there are more descriptions of human beings besides fat or skinny.
People can be happy. They can be depressed.
They can be supported. They can be alone.
They can be fulfilled. They can be empty.
They can be confident. They can be insecure.
The real challenge is for us to connect to people and figure this out. We have to look underneath the initial physical impression and try to understand why people are the way they are.
Placing terms like fat or even hot on someone limits their ability to be a multi-dimensional human being. Who wants that?
Have you seen this show? What do you think about it?
How did your parents approach the issue of health when you were growing up?
If you’re a parent, how do you approach it?