Television Plays a Large Role in Body Image

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • From a body image perspective, that is.  I'm not a big fan of either show.  That being said let me point out "my issues."


    (1) Everyone who is significantly overweight needs to lose weight - for their health - to improve the disease risk created by excess weight, the physical impairments it can cause and the self esteem issues it brings, not to mention health cost burden.  So the fact that The Biggest Loser offers people an opportunity to get the weight loss process going is fabulous.  And who can argue with the concept of removing the individual from the very environment that seems to tempt them or defy them, as well as the idea of providing daily education, healthy prep techniques, the comraderie of others in the same "weight boat," personal training help every day.

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    My hang-ups or problems with this rosy picture

    (a) Dangerous levels of physical activity that are introduced right at the beginning and can easily cause physical joint injury or serious electrolyte imbalances (we're assuming they get a full cardiac clearance)

    (b)The relentless numbers of hours of the exercise

    (c) The unreal numbers that get posted the first week, and by unreal, I mean unless someone is doing what they are doing - dangerously I might add- the average weight loss "high" in a first week of a typical dieter is usually 5 or 6 pounds.  Someone on the first show of this series who lost 9 pounds was "devastated."  Puhleeze - can we get real here???

    (d) The fact that the show does not seem to revisit or reveal all the participants who go back to gain weight after the show experience is over BECAUSE it is a super hard task to keep the weight off once you get it off.  We never see these people again.

    (e) The take-away message which is brutality gets the job done - but truly, the story of the typical person who successfully loses weight is day-to-day struggle with their real environment, the gains and losses along the way, the affordable techniques that yield success.


    You can draw your own conclusions - positive or negative and share them.


    Onto the new and improved Beverly Hills 90210 - all I can say is - "Want to develop an eating disorder? Watch the show."  What's especially painful to see is that pictures of these young actresses prior to their gig on this show reveal attractive, slim, young women; cut to several weeks/months into filming - skeletal at best.  I understand what it feels like to see yourself on screen and notice facial wrinkles, discolorations, tired eyes, droopy neck and of course, those "extra 10" that the screen sometimes adds on - but there seems to be an ongoing whiplash effect permeating shows on TV of anorexic looks - all the women on Desperate Housewives have gotten thinner - so it's not just among the impressionable young actresses.


    I've never heard a producer say "gain wieght" - ever - and I've been on TV for over 7 years.  I've always gotten the understated "thinner is better' mantra as it is whispered across sound stages.  We had better wake up and realize that weight extremes in either direction off or on TV is not healthy, and may also be a sign of serious underlying issues.  Those visuals week after week on TV can have a profound impact on young girls who look up to these idols.  If I had a young daughter today, I'm not sure how I would feel about her watching this or other shows, where scene after scene shows relentless images of unrealistically thin women.


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    What do you think?

Published On: September 19, 2008