Why Everyone Should Leave Rachel Frederickson Alone

In high school and early college I suffered from an eating disorder. Food and exercise had become my god. At one point, I would dream about food that I had categorized as “forbidden”, only to wake up feeling anxious and afraid– did I really eat that? Oh good, it was just a dream. Sometimes my body reflected this disordered eating. Sometimes it didn’t. I hit a low weight that was scary, but sometimes I was within my “normal range”, but the food continued to be what I thought about all day.

I was subject to a lot of comments from family, friends and strangers: “Just eat something.” “You look gross you are so skinny.” At the time, I prized those comments because it meant I was accomplishing what I wanted to. But, looking back on it, it is strange that so many felt like they had the right and responsibility to comment on my outer appearance. After a while, I got a bit smarter– gaining just enough weight for people to stop talking to me about it, but still struggling with awful and all-consuming thoughts, emotions, and actions surrounding food.

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This being my history, I do feel empathy for Rachel Frederickson. This is a woman who worked very hard to lose a lot of weight. Before coming on the biggest loser, I’m sure she was gawked at and made fun of. And now she is again, after losing all of that weight. Why do we as a culture think that it is not kind to talk about how BIG someone else, but yet we’re fine saying how SMALL they are.

Interestingly enough, my current BMI is very similar to Rachel’s current BMI. While I have left my anorexic ways far behind, I happen to be a nursing momma, meaning I burn 500 extra calories a day. And hence, I have gotten some comments from both family and strangers- You’re getting too skinny. Eat something. Wow, it must be hard to be a size __. While some of them were not intending to be rude or mean, it began to make me nervous to be in certain situations because I didn’t want people to comment on my body. It made me feel self-conscious– like my body is doing something wrong. In some ways I’m eager to stop nursing so that I will gain a bit of weight back and feel less nervous in those situations. I can only imagine how Rachel feels now- thousands of people who don’t even know her, commenting about her body.

If Rachel has developed a pattern of disordered eating or thinking about food, then let those who know her and care with her deal with it. Biggest Loser is not stupid; they will take appropriate action if necessary. Her family and friends who see her day in and day out know her eating habits, her exercise habits, etc. They will say something to her.

Let us not be a culture that holds up a woman’s body and shames her– no matter how fat or thin she is.

 

3 Comments on Why Everyone Should Leave Rachel Frederickson Alone

  1. Kelly
    February 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm (9 months ago)

    I agree with you. I was sad that her night of celebration was shadowed by this. I would say a majority of everyone who watched the show was rooting for her, and it was surprising to see her this way. It is so unfortunate since she is so sweet and such a hard worker. She deserved to win. Hoping she is okay and that she has time to recover from the spotlight.

  2. Kari
    February 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm (9 months ago)

    I’m torn. Part of me agrees with what you are saying, yet another strongly disagrees. Eating disorders (on both ends of the spectrum) are some of the hardest mental health issues that exist today to treat. I think Rachel should be commended for facing her problem head-on and tackling it with as much dignity as a reality TV show permits. Her hard work is also to be applauded. However, by appearing on the show and opening up her life in that manner, she essentially invites the commentary and critique of the media and the world at large. If she wants to be left alone, then she should not choose to tackle her issues in such a public forum. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m not at all convinced that she hasn’t simply traded a food addiction for exercise/dieting addiction, and there is serious debate about which is worse in the long run. There has to be a happy medium.

  3. Tiffany
    February 6, 2014 at 9:31 pm (9 months ago)

    I definitely see your point about her choosing to be on such a public forum, and that she is opening herself up to critique. I think that is a valid point and I wonder how she is reacting to all of this. So far it seems like she has chosen to see if it’s going to all blow over and not really giving the media much to run with.

    I think it’s important to remember that before this she was an athlete, and that she may have the genes and muscle memory that help her to be this thin and healthy. I don’t really like how people label her as anorexic just by looking at her. Could she be anorexic? Yes, maybe! But we don’t know that, so let’s not shame her for something we don’t know about.

    Remember that big story about someone saying the news anchor was fat and everyone got in an uproar? Why is it not okay for someone to say that to someone who chose to put themselves out on television everyday but it is okay for thousands of people to shame a woman for her skinniness?

    But, like I said, I think that you have a good point about her inviting commentary because of her decision to be on Biggest Loser.

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