Monday, February 7, 2011

Is 'The Biggest Loser' Keeping Their Trainers in the Closet?

I don't watch The Biggest Loser. Let me make that clear first off. I have a lot of issues with the show...

First of all, while the show claims to be about trying to help people and improve their lives and their health, we can't forget that the producers' real goal is just to make money. According to media critic Jennifer L. Pozner, the show rakes in $100 million annually from merchandising and does not put the health of its contestants first. In her book, Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV she wrote:
Ten million viewers per week watch people shed hundreds of pounds on the program, which claims to be about helping obeses men and women get "healthy". Yet its extreme regimen - severe restriction of calories coupled with workouts that can last six hours per day - has led contestants to collapse, suffer dehydration or heat stroke, urinate blood, and be hospitalized. Unaffiliated physicians call the show exploitative and unsafe, and no wonder: Participants have to sign contracts stipulating that TBL does not guarantee "the qualifications or credentials of the medical professionals who examine me or perform any procedures on me ... or their ability to diagnose medical conditions that may affect my fitness."
In a recent season two contestants wound up in the hospital with heat exhaustion after being told to run a mile on their first day. In another season, one woman suffered a stress fracture on her hip. Loser's trainer Jillian Michaels was recently quoted on the fact that she sometimes has concerns. "As the trainers, we have no say over the challenges. We worry about them too," she told Ladies Home Journal. (Producer Todd A. Nelson also admitted that "we all worry".)

Michaels also described the show as a "funhouse mirror":
I've loved the show and the platform it has given me, but still, it is the nature of reality TV to manipulate. You never see what's going on in its entirety. For every 10 minutes we're on the show, acting like insane people, there are a hundred hours of training you don't see.
So clearly, I'm not really a fan of the show.

Then the other day we read that NBC allegedly won't let its trainers be interviewed by LGBT publications [via ONTD]. Hm... Now that show is all kinds of offensive in a lot of ways, but this takes it to a whole other level.


Jillian Michaels told Ladies Home Journal last year that she was bisexual: "If I fall in love with a woman, that's awesome. If I fall in love with a man that's awesome."

New trainer Cara Castronuova also may be either lesbian or bisexual; in 2008 GO magazine referred to God-Des (of hip-hop duo God-Des & She) as her "partner of two years".

And although trainer Bob Harper hasn't been quoted in any magazine articles about his sexuality, some sources claim that he has been out for years and former contestants of the show have implied it (and he did make that Queer Abs video).


So why won't they sit down with the LGBT press?

NBC has apparently turned down several interview requests from AfterEllen.com for both Michaels and Castronuova. We haven't found any interviews with any of the other big LGBT websites or magazines either. However, there have been numerous appearances in more 'mainstream' media outlets, such as TIME, Redbook, Women's Health and Reality TV Magazine.

It's unclear whether this is NBC's decision or not, but seeing as both female trainers are openly 'not-straight' it seems a little peculiar that they would snub the LGBT media unless they were discouraged by the network to be too open about their orientation.

One can only hope that once Michaels officially leaves the show (in order to focus on becoming a mother and doing more charity work) she will become more 'available' to the LGBT press.

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