‘Healthy,’ ‘skinny’ are not synonymous

Biggest_loser-copy Colby Patterson
Nick Ketterer

Nick Ketterer

Season 15 of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” ended Tuesday night with more than enough happy endings and joyful tears to go around. Since this was the first season I had watched from start to finish, I was eager to see the results of everyone’s hard work. When two of the three finalists came out at the end, I was proud of the people I had grown to care for and couldn’t wait to see who had won. But when the third finalist emerged, I was shocked. Rachel Frederickson was a completely different person. She lost a total of 155 pounds, 59.62 percent of her body weight when she started. As I had been following her journey the entire season, I was happy for her but also concerned that she might have taken it too far.

“The Biggest Loser” has never been about trying to make people fit into the warped ideal body type advertisements throw at us every day. It’s about choosing to be healthy and regaining control of your life. So when Rachel weighed in at a final 105 pounds at 5 feet 4 inches, people lashed out. Twitter exploded with angry and disappointed tweets, some even claiming NBC should issue a statement about her weight loss.

Frederickson may have dieted excessively to ensure she took home the grand prize, and hey, for a quarter of a million dollars, I might have done the same thing. But as an inspiration to many, I believe she should maintain a healthier weight. Toward the end of the season, it was obvious she had lost a huge amount of weight, and while at the time, she wasn’t Hollywood’s version of “thin,” she still looked amazing.

Even past winners of “The Biggest Loser” have maintained a healthy body weight for their height, and the finale showed past winners who had kept off the weight. According to Weight Watchers, a website dedicated to helping people maintain a healthy body image through diet and exercise, the ideal weight for someone at 5 foot 4 inches is between 117-146 pounds. Fredrickson is now 12 pounds away from that. There is a difference between a healthy weight and emaciated. And while it seems like people will never be satisfied, either wanting her to lose weight because she was 260 pounds when she started “The Biggest Loser,” or berating her because she lost “too much,” it doesn’t look like the dissatisfaction will end anytime soon. Dosomething.org claims 91 percent of women are unhappy with their own bodies, and only five percent of women naturally posses the kinds of bodies portrayed by the media. These kinds of statistics have launched different campaigns attempting to change the way people view their bodies, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

I hope it was just her competitive drive that led Frederickson to look this way and not her buying into the idea that in order for her to be beautiful, she needed to be as thin as possible. And maybe in spite of all the fuss, that was just the natural frame of her body after she lost that much weight. But the principle remains the same: healthy doesn’t just mean thin, and thin isn’t synonymous with beautiful.