Tag Archives: bullying

We’re all the biggest loser

*Trigger warning for bullying, fat hatred and eating disorders*

So that terrible, terrible show “The Biggest Loser” is back on TV, which means that I will be avoiding whatever channel it’s on (I don’t watch TV enough to even know that), and I won’t be watching that TV screen when I’m at the gym.  Because regardless of how some people might see the torture of fat people “inspiring” as they learn to love/hate their bodies for TV, I just find the entire thing repulsive.

This season, according to the TV ads I’ve seen, we’re doing parent and child teaming, because with stats just pulled out of someone’s arse (because they’re not cited anywhere in the ad), if you are an obese parent, you’re far more likely to have obese children.  The dad whose interview appears on the ads I’ve watched talks about how his son comes home from school crying because he’s being bullied about his weight and that this (Biggest Loser) is an opportunity for him to gain some confidence.

Just no.

Really, no.

The Biggest Loser, apart from being a show that even in the ad we see almost kills the father, is not a show that will help anyone gain confidence.  In the small amounts I have watched over the years, I cannot see how being screamed at by personal trainers, being forced to binge on food to the point of tears, being hounded about not doing enough, and having your body gazed upon and judged by the entire country is going to do anything for your confidence.

If that boy was my son, I would be talking to the school about the bullying he’s receiving, I’d talk to the parents of the children who are bullying my son and explaining the effects of bullying, I’d go to the Department of Education and demand more action if not enough was taken, I’d ensure that my son had proper counselling or psychological care to help build resilience, confidence and develop tools to build support networks.  I’m not saying that this family hasn’t done any of this, what I’m saying is that in my toolbox in dealing with this issue The Biggest Loser does not, and would never, appear.

I feel sorry for those who compete to enter The Biggest Loser.  I feel for all the fat hatred they’ve swallowed and believe that they only way that they’ll truly be happy is to lose weight while almost killing themselves for the pleasure of doing so.

Don’t let me be the only one telling you that The Biggest Loser is possibly the worst torture porn you will ever watch, let Kai Hibbard, a contestant in the US version tell it to you instead.  Parts 1, 2, & 3 of her interviews with Golda Poresky detail her experiences on the show, having to ignore doctor’s orders, developing an eating disorder and the bullying from the TV producers.

Do Australia a favour and do not watch The Biggest Loser.  Leave it alone, shun it as it should be shunned, and instead work on removing fat hatred from your own vocabulary and if you can, pointing it out to others as something that is unacceptable.

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Post-allergy linkspam of November 2012

There is a certain type of pollen that drives my skin mad in early Spring.  This period of time has now passed, and I feel much better, though I think sleeping for an age would still be nice.  But before I do, here are some things about the interwebs I’ve found interesting recently.

First, cheynne at Queereka writes “Empty Chairs“:

We have so mastered the art of talking to someone who is not there, that we can even do it beautifully when someone very much is there, right in front of us. We can obliterate them with our monologue and blow them away like so much straw. It’s so prevalent, especially in discussions where this could not be more counter productive, I’d forgive anyone who thought this is a necessary, adaptive trait for our species.

Lux at teenskepchick writes “Gender vs. Sex: Important Distinction“:

Now that I’ve stuffed you full of information, you might be wondering “Okay then, why do I need to know this excessively specific vocabulary?” Since you’re reading a Skepchick network site, you probably tread in lots of spaces which well cover the specific marginalization of women/females from the atheist movement. To a degree, this type of harassment and exclusion is also directed at LGBT+ individuals.

The Atheism+ movement was started by atheists who desire to work for social justice as much as they promote atheism. Even non-believers who don’t subscribe to that label can commonly agree that we need to open our doors to everyone–especially groups which are already marginalized, often with religious backing. To that end, we have to educate ourselves about the issues and struggles of LGBT+ people, women, racial minorities, and people with mental illnesses. By teaching ourselves and spreading the knowledge, we’re eliminating the stigmas attached to these groups.

Molly Crabbapple writes “The World of a Professional Naked Girl” (NSFW) at Vice *trigger warning for violence*:

A woman’s beauty is supposed to be her grand project and constant insecurity. We’re meant to shellac our lips with five different glosses, but always think we’re fat. Beauty is Zeno’s paradox. We should endlessly strive for it, but it’s not socially acceptable to admit we’re there. We can’t perceive it in ourselves. It belongs to the guy screaming “nice tits.”

Saying “I’m beautiful,” let alone charging for it, breaks the rules.

Laura Stone guest posts at Skepchick, “Guest Post: A Mother’s Plea to Bullies” *trigger warning for bullying*:

I’ve heard that I’m a terrible mother for leaving my child in a situation where he’s being brutalized. That he needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps and beat the hell out of his attackers. That he needs more Jesus in his life. That if he only smiles back at the bullies, why, their hearts will grow three sizes that day and they’ll all be BFFs.

There are a few problems with those suggestions. First, I haven’t left my child anywhere. Every single administrator, counselor, and teacher from his 3rd grade in elementary school to this year in high school knows my face and my name. I’m always assured that they’re looking into things. They’re getting to the bottom of it. If they can only catch these punks in the act, life will be better. (And if my son could only remember their names. Or not be terrified about turning them in, because that hasn’t worked out well either. Retaliation is the name of that game.)

Second, my son is on the Autism Spectrum. To think that he would be capable of beating up on someone is ridiculous. (Not to mention that he weighs a buck o’five at almost seventeen years old.) He approaches things from logic. To him, it’s illogical to hit a person in order to make them stop hitting him. Frankly, it tells me a lot about a person if they think that contradictory mindset works, like biting back a toddler to make him stop biting.

Judy Adong at Comment is Free in the Guardian, writes, “Our duty to tell the truth about being gay in Uganda“:

I spent the better half of 2010 carrying out research. Among other things, I wondered about whether the concept of homosexuality existed in African culture. I also wanted to investigate the structured recruitment of children by the LGBT community. As I always do, I first consulted my reliable team of Acholi elders. They told me that gay men and women have always existed among the Acholi society and are commonly referred to as “obedo dako dako” (gay) and “obedo lacoo lacoo” (lesbian). They also acknowledged that the communal nature of the Acholi society forced many gay and lesbian people to conform to what was considered “normal”.

Amy Andre at HuffPost Gay Voices, writes “On Dating Men, and Hate Crimes at Home“:

A new report from the Williams Institute shows that bisexual women and gay men experience higher rates of domestic-violence victimization than people of other gender-and-sexual-orientation combinations. The stats about bisexual women, unfortunately, came as no surprise. The fact that bisexual women are more likely than women of other orientations to be abused by their partners has been reported on before, as covered in the book Bisexual Health (published by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force). However, this is the first time I’ve seen a study that showed that gay men have this particular thing in common with bisexual women. And the Williams Institute takes the research one step further, noting that the vast majority (95 percent) of the bisexual women who are in abusive relationships are, like gay men, in relationships with men. So what we have here is a situation in which people who not straight, and who are in relationships with men, are being abused by those men. The study, then, is not so much about the experiences of bisexual women or gay men but about those of queer people who date men.


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The “It gets better” project

This is going to be a really quick post, because I have only one criticism of the project.  I love what people have done, and I am amazed at the honesty that people displayed about the difficulties they faced as queer people growing up.  I’m really grateful that the initial valid criticisms of the invisibility of bisexual and trans* stories in the project were addressed.

There is one big, big problem I have with this project though – “It gets better” is a hard thing to tell someone who is suffering now.  “It gets better… eventually” is a really hard thing to hear when you are being bullied now.  “It gets better in 5 – 10 years” is an impossibly long time for someone who is being bullied at school today (do you remember how long a year was when you were 13?).

What I would have loved to have seen included in this project – and yes I know it’d be region specific – is “It gets better, and right now if you need help you can find it [here] or [with this type of organisation]”.  Or even better, “It shouldn’t be like this for you now, and we’re working on making it better for everyone today – and right now if you need help you can find it [here] or [with this type of organisation]”.

Because telling someone that they have to wait through several more years of erasure, bullying, harassment, pain, suffering, rejection, depression, suicidal idealisation and the like is not reasonable, fair or nice.  It’s time to help LGBTIQ youth today and not patronise them with “It’ll get better eventually”.  It’s time to stop bullying today, and not tell people that eventually the bullying will end.

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