About an hour ago, Executive Editor of XO Jane Emily McComb posted the story “I Worked Out With Jillian Michaels And She Made Me Feel Bad About My Body.” At first I wasn’t remotely surprised. I mean, in what world would the celebrity fitness trainer known for her role in Biggest Loser, a show founded on intimidation and aggression, not make any normal person feel bad about their bodies? Essentially, it is Jillian Michaels’ job to make other people feel like crap.
But I read on, and the piece was about way more than Michaels’ prototypical fat bashing. Like SO many people in the world, Michaels was bullied as a kid for being big. So she lost the weight and now gets paid to bully others for being big. Ironic? I think so. But I knew this about her. All it takes is to watch Biggest Loser for 60 seconds while she is on, and you know right away that this woman is close-minded and a deeply rooted enemy of the size acceptance movement. But like I said, I knew this.
What I didn’t know is that not only is Jillian Michaels a standard bully, she’s actually intrinsically, painfully, naive. At a round-table interview, conducted before the fitness class that Emily McComb would be attending, she asked Jillian the following:
“A lot of our readers are really into size acceptance and Health at Every Size. Your brand is so aligned with weight loss, I just wonder how you feel about exercise for fitness vs. exercise for weight loss.”
Check out Michaels’ response:
There are some pretty low points surrounding this whole answer. She doesn’t even have the ability to comprehend the question, for starters. You’d think a fitness professional would be able to understand the difference between being healthy and losing weight. But then again, she is in the majority of health “professionals” who look at a larger person and assume they are unhealthy because of their size alone. She goes on to presume that she has never met a fat, healthy person. But to me, the worst part of this whole rant is:
“I don’t believe that even though you might be 100 pounds overweight, you’re going, ‘Oh I’m good the way that I am.’ BULLSHIT. I don’t believe that you don’t wake up in the morning and feel uncomfortable in your skin. I don’t believe that you don’t feel insecure when you pick your kid up from school. I don’t believe that you don’t feel uncomfortable when you’re naked in front of your husband or your wife for that matter. I don’t believe you.”
So I say, what the actual f**k Jillian Michaels? Perhaps the reason you don’t believe that a human being can be fat and happy, fat and self-loving, fat and sexual, is because you work for a show that revolves around purely unhappy people wanting to change their bodies. And those people happen to be fat (though I bet if you polled a few dozen thin people and asked them whether or not they were happy, many would say NO — causes for unhappiness are not limited to being big, after all). Perhaps it’s because when you were overweight, you wanted to change your body. But how can you presume to know what every overweight man or woman in the world feels or thinks? And how could you be so naive as to assume that any fat person who is happy must be a liar?
I may not be 100 pounds overweight, but if you ask my doctor, he’ll probably tell you I’m somewhere around 60-70 pounds overweight. And even though I may not be 100 pounds overweight, I certainly know people who are. I won’t speak for others, like Jillian Michaels tries to do, but in terms of myself, I don’t think I have ever been more confident, more comfortable in my skin, more comfortable being naked, than right now. This moment in time. I was far more insecure weighing 130 pounds at 5’10” and fitting into a size 4 than I am today at a size 16/18. I loathed myself at that lower weight. Today, Jillian Michaels, I love myself, and that is not a lie.
It is astounding to me that Michaels refuses to believe that confidence can coexist with fatness. Has she even heard of BBW modeling? Not plus-size modeling, per say, but BBW modeling. The massive community, based predominantly online, of men and women who love their big, beautiful bodies, and in some cases, gain weight because they want to — because they feel more attractive at a higher weight — because they feel healthier emotionally/mentally/and yes, physically, when they’re fat (and on that note, have we forgotten that emotional and mental health is just as if not more important than fitness). Can she not believe that there are men and women attracted to fat — either in themselves, or in a partner, or both? Is she not aware of the favoritism of fatness through history — of the centuries and centuries of time in which the heavier you were, the more beautiful you were considered? Does she know nothing of fat pride and self-love? Well, guess not. I guess these days you can get away with this level of naivete even when you’re in the public eye.
It frightens me to know that someone with this mindset is in a position to influence so many people. People look up to Jillian Michaels. People buy her DVDs and go to her classes and soak up the BS that comes out of her mouth. People believe what she says about health and weight and fitness because she is a “professional.” But she isn’t, really. A professional would base their information on facts, not on presumptions. A professional would know that fat people can be fit and active and happy and sexy and confident just as much as thin people. A professional would know that people are people, no matter their size — that bullying is only a feeble attempt at feeling better about your own self, and wouldn’t base a career around it. A professional, to me, keeps an open mind and is willing to accept that their mindset is not the mindset of the rest of the world. A professional would know that aesthetic preferences come down to the individual.
Jillian Michaels is one of many who believe that health is directly correlated to weight. She is one of the many who refuse to believe that a fat person can outrun a thin one. But I’ve seen it happen. Even in myself. Back when I did weigh in at 130 pounds, I couldn’t be on an elliptical machine for more than 10 minutes. I couldn’t run to save my life. Today, I can be on that elliptical for over an hour if I wanted. I know I can run to save my life because I played a city-wide zombie game in Liverpool and found out that if the zombie apocalypse does happen, I can in fact run my ass off. I know that I am beautiful and sexy and I happen to enjoy being naked. And I know I’m not alone in that.