"The Biggest Loser" producers and NBC issued a joint statement Thursday morning that addressed Rachel Frederickson's controversial weight loss at the finale by not addressing it at all:
"We support Rachel and all of the 'Biggest Loser' contestants who have shared their journeys over the past 15 seasons. We remain committed to helping contestants achieve healthy weight loss and live healthier lifestyles, and to inspiring viewers to do the same."
Rachel's trainer, Dolvett Quince, also issued a statement via social media that inched a little closer to acknowledging that something was amiss: "Biggest Loser is a journey which has its ups and downs. Please try not to look at one slice of Rachel's journey and come to broad conclusions. Rachel's health is and always has been my main concern and her journey to good health has not yet ended!!"
The statements follow the public uproar after Tuesday night's season finale of the NBC weight-loss reality show. The $250,000 grand prize went to Frederickson, 24, of Los Angeles, who shocked the viewers and, it seems, trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels, when she stepped on the scale and weighed in at 105 pounds.
The 5-foot-5 voiceover artist began the months-long competition at 260 pounds. She lost 155 pounds, or 59.62% of her body weight. Given her height and end weight she is officially considered underweight, according to one popular measure, the Body Mass Index.
An outcry erupted on social media, saying the show had gone too far in its quest to turn weight loss into entertainment, with many fearing that Rachel was suffering from an eating disorder.
In the hours since the Tuesday night finale there has been a slow and steady trickle of reaction from those involved in the show -- including Rachel herself -- with no one willing to directly confront the issue: Does Rachel's weight loss cross a line? Did she trade one addiction -- food -- for another, mainly diet and exercise?
For her part, Rachel says she has never felt better. In a media conference call, she refused to address repeated questions about whether she lost too much weight in her quest to win the Season 15 title of "The Biggest Loser." She said she reached the 105-pound mark by following a strict 1,600-calorie-a-day diet prescribed by the show, and worked out "a ton" -- all under show supervision.
The issue has been the persistent buzz of the online world ever since her appearance at the finale, particularly her gaunt arms.
The television cameras seemed to capture the exact moment that Harper and Michaels saw Frederickson's appearance and their reaction to it, an image that has been shared thousands of times since the finale. (You can see it in the photo gallery above.) The trainers also used social media to issue their own joint statement on the matter:
"Bob and I want to take a moment to congratulate all of the BL contestants on their hard work. We are not comfortable commenting on Rachel's journey because [we] weren't her trainers and weren't given an opportunity to work with her at any point. Any questions about the contestants on the Biggest Loser should be directed to the show's producers."
The uproar has sparked a variety of online conversations, including debate about whether the finale results promote anorexia and add to the scrutiny of women's bodies. Others, however, say it speaks to a double standard. Hollywood and the media adore many an actress who is rail thin, holding them up as examples of beauty, while all but ignoring what it takes to get that way. And God forbid if those very same women gain a little weight, or fail to lose their baby weight in record time ....
Do you think the show has an obligation to discuss Rachel's weight loss, and how it supervised her before the finale? Tweet me @ReneLynch
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