Stealing from Fat Positivity to Sell Diets – Looking at You “Biggest Loser”

diet companies steal the language of our librationYou’ve seen the weight loss companies’ marketing – “This is a wellness program!” (with weekly weigh-ins.) “This is all about health!” (But the only thing we measure is weight.) “This show is all about wellness” (but is literally named “The Biggest Loser”)

People are getting wiser to the fact that diets almost never work (nope, not even if you call them a “lifestyle change”) but they still live in a fatphobic society. with a constant drumbeat of “thinner=better.” So the diet companies have spent some of their many millions of marketing dollars to figure out how to use language that gets past people’s defenses, while still leveraging their fear of being the victims of fatphobia to sell a product that is so unsuccessful that they are legally required to disclaim the chances of success every time they talk about it.

And as Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size become more popular (because they offer real, practical solutions) these companies are stealing their language and concepts to sell us bullshit diets – so you’re watching a commercial that is selling you weight loss while paying lip service to the idea that you can love yourself as you are. This is a subtle form of gaslighting.

Let’s let Chris McCumber, the president of USA Network which is “rebooting” The Biggest Loser show us how it’s done:

“We’re re-imagining ‘The Biggest Loser’ for today’s audiences, providing a new holistic, 360-degree look at wellness, while retaining the franchise’s competition format and legendary jaw-dropping moments,”

Yeah, no. Sorry Chris but you can’t do that. You can’t blend wellness with a competition to starve your body faster than other people to win money. “Holistic wellness” by any reasonable definition is not competitive, and does not include “legendary jaw-dropping moments.” The Biggest Loser was, is, and always will be an abomination of a show that does significant harm to its “contestants,” and everyone knows it.

We’ve managed to claw and scrape our way out of the diet industry’s grip, we’ve realized that the solution to fatphobia isn’t trying to change ourselves to please our bullies. Let’s make sure that we don’t get dragged back by ads designed to confuse us by stealing the language of our liberation to sell us the same old diets.

Was this helpful? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)


Speaking of fat performers, I’ll be doing a stand-up comedy set as a guest performer at the FATCH – the Fat Sketch Comedy Group’s New Year, Same You show today! (January 10th) at 9pm at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater on Sunset in Los Angeles. Tickets and info can be found here (Accessibility info: there is a fat-friendly bench in the front, the rest of the seating is stadium theater seats with arms up at least one step. The venue is wheelchair accessible, but there is limited space for wheelchairs.)

In case you missed it, my adorable dog and I have a poem to help you resolve (for the first time, or again) to ditch diets. I’m having fun doing videos like this so there will definitely be more – if you want to make sure not to miss future videos, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel!


Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Body Love Obstacle Course

This e-course that includes coaching videos, a study guide, and an ebook with the tools you need to create a rock-solid relationship with your body. Our relationships with our bodies don’t happen in a vacuum, so just learning to see our beauty isn’t going to cut it. The world throws obstacles in our way – obstacles that aren’t our fault, but become our problem. Over the course of this program, Ragen Chastain, Jeanette DePatie, and six incredible guest coaches will teach you practical, realistic, proven strategies to go above, around, and through the obstacles that the world puts in front of you when it comes to living an amazing life in the body you have now.
Price: $99.00
($79.00 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Love It! 234 Inspirations And Activities to Help You Love Your Body
This is filled with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain, and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails.
Price: $9.99 softcover, $7.99 Kindle, ($6.95 + free shipping for DancesWithFat Members)

Non-Members click here for all the details and to register!

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRON-distance triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!  (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

I’m (still!) training for an Iron-distance triathlon! You can follow my journey at .

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.


4 thoughts on “Stealing from Fat Positivity to Sell Diets – Looking at You “Biggest Loser”

  1. Everything you’ve written here is a perfect response to this reprehensible “re-imagining” of a show that never should have existed in the first place. Thank you for writing this.

  2. Who exactly is this reboot’s target audience? The original was pitched at fatphobes who wanted a socially acceptable venue to watch fat people be abused, humiliated, and punished like we “deserve,” and that set isn’t going to tune in for a sappy version that “coddles” the objects of their hate. Meanwhile, they may be appropriating our language in their pitches, but we sure as hell aren’t tuning in, either. So who are they trying to attract, here?

  3. The millions who just don’t care, sort of get it but don’t want to, still hate fat people but want to hate us in kinder gentler ways, the utterly deluded, people who like watching soft bodies move but don’t want to get caught doing it, or pay for fattie porn, people home sick with the flu who left the remote in the bathroom…? Oh and what’s her face, tuning in to complain that’s not the way to do it!

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