‘Biggest Loser’ contestant: Show a ‘fat-shaming disaster’

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Biggest Loser’ contestant speaks out against show.

You’d have to be thick-skinned to go on a show like ‘The Biggest Loser’ in the first place, but for one former contestant, the fat-shaming was all too much. “The whole f***king show is a fat-shaming disaster,” she told Page Six. “You just think you’re so lucky to be there that you don’t think to question or complain about anything.” Hibbard said she and other contestants were made to sing contracts giving away their rights to their storylines on the show and forbidding them to speak poorly of the NBC reality show.SHE had always struggled with her weight, but in January of 2006, Kai Hibbard was in real trouble: At just 26 years old, her 5-foot-6 frame carried 120kg. Hibbard says once contestants got to the ‘ranch’, where their rigorous exercise regime began, they were given a medical, then started working out immediately – from five to eight hours straight.

Talking to the New York Post on Sunday, Jan. 18, Hibbard revealed contestants were sent evil texts, informing them of their imminent death and telling them they’ve picked out “fat-person” coffins to bury their bodies in. Adding salt to the wounds, the trainers would harass contestants with stingers like “You’re going to die before your children grow up” or “We’ve picked out your fat-person coffin” – that particular pearler delivered in a text message. In the report, she also suggested that the show’s trainers get a “sick pleasure” out of seeing contestants collapse mentally and physically. “Our contestants are closely monitored and medically supervised.

Turns out what she was in for was five to six hour workouts while eating far fewer than 1,000 calories. “There was no easing into it,” Kai says. “That doesn’t make for good TV. Hibbard claims her hair started to fall out and her period stopped. “I was only sleeping three hours a night.” To this day, her knees are still damaged and her “thyroid is now crap”. The consistent ‘Biggest Loser’ health transformations of over 300 contestants through 16 seasons of the program speak for themselves,” NBC said in a statement. Another contestant who spoke to The Post under anonymity told a similar story, adding that the trainers had little empathy, saying “Pain is just weakness leaving the body”.

One production assistant told a contestant to take up smoking because it would cut her appetite in half.” In addition to psychological and emotional abuse, Hibbard said contestants are forced to eat unhealthy processed food provided by the show’s sponsors — a far cry from the healthy diet message the program claims to promote. “My season had a lot of Franken-foods: ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’ spray, Kraft fat-free cheese, Rockstar Energy Drinks and Jell-O,” said Kai. That contestant claims that by the end of the show she was running on 400 calories and eight to nine hour workouts each day. “Someone asked me where I was born, and I couldn’t remember. The show rakes in about $100 million annually in ad sales, with ancillary products such as cookbooks, DVDs, protein powder, clothing, video games and branded weight-loss camps bringing in tens more millions of dollars per year. Hibbard still suffers from hair loss, irregular periods and has permanent thyroid damage. “My feet were bleeding through my shoes for the first three weeks,” said Hibbard. “My period stopped.

After six weeks, she claims, contestants get to make one five-minute phone call, which is monitored by producers. “I know that one of the contestants’ children became very ill and was in the ICU,” Kai reveals. “He was allowed to talk to his family, but he didn’t want to leave, because the show would have been done with him.” So why did Kai and the other contestants stay? Rachel’s emaciated appearance stirred rumors she was suffering from the eating disorders anorexia or bulimia, and drew alarmed reactions from both trainers Jillian Michaels and her colleague, Bob Harper. She suspects her computer was bugged. “The camera light on my MacBook would sometimes come on when I hadn’t checked in,” she says. “It was like Big Brother was always watching you.” The sequestration lasts five days. Jillian later blamed Dolvett Quince (Frederickson’s trainer), for the anorexia controversy, saying he didn’t properly supervise Rachel to ensure she lost weight in a healthy manner. After an initial winnowing process, 14 of 50 finalists are taken to “the ranch,” where they live, work out and suffer in seclusion. (The remaining 36 are sent home to lose weight on their own, and return later in the season.) Those who remain, Hibbard says, are not allowed to call home. “You might give away show secrets,” she says.

Frederickson’s super-skinny appearance caused outrage among “Biggest Loser” fans, who said selecting someone who looks unhealthy as the winner sends the wrong message. You’ll lose your last chance to save your life.’ ” “Safe weight loss is one to two pounds per week, and most people find that hard,” says Lynn Darby, a professor of exercise science at Bowling Green State University. “If you reduce your calories to less than 800-1,000 a day, your metabolism will shut down.

The first-ever Biggest Loser, Ryan Benson, went from 149kg to 94kg — but after the show, he said he was so malnourished he was urinating blood. “That’s a sign of kidney damage, if not failure,” Darby says. And 2014’s Biggest Loser, Rachel Frederickson, became the first winner to generate concern that she had lost too much weight, dropping 70kg in months. She appeared on the cover of People with the headline “Too Thin, Too Fast?” Frederickson (5-foot-4, 47kg) admitted to working out four times a day, and within one month of the finale had gained back nine kg. “Just calorie restriction in and of itself has to be supervised,” Darby says. “I mean, people die.

It’s just not safe.” “One contestant had a torn calf muscle and bursitis in her knees,” Hibbard says. “The doctor told her, ‘You need to rest.’ She said, ‘Production told me I can’t rest.’ At one point after that, production ordered her to run, and she said, ‘I can’t.’ She was seriously injured. But they edited her to make her look lazy and bitchy and combative.” Hibbard’s own health declined dramatically. “My hair was falling out,” she says. “My period stopped. When a bell went off, they had to run neck-and-neck like animals, picking up sacks filled with their lost weight on the way. “I walked,” she says. It was her minor form of protest. “They edited it to look like I was lazy,” she says, “but I wasn’t participating because it was humiliating.” When Hibbard got home, her best friend and boyfriend took her straight to the doctor. “She said I had such severe shin splints that she didn’t know how I was still walking,” Hibbard says.

Yet she feels a responsibility as someone once held up as false inspiration. “If I’m going to walk around collecting accolades, I also have a responsibility [to tell the truth],” she says. “There’s a moral and ethical question here when you take people who are morbidly obese and work them out to the point where they vomit, all because it makes for good TV.”

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