Lizabeth Wesely-Casella, founder of BingeBehavior.com, and Chevese Turner, founder of BEDA, are spearheading a call-to-action campaign whose aim is to encourage the First Lady Michelle Obama to not appear on The Biggest Loser next month (November 2013) to promote the "Let's Move!" Campaign in an effort to fight childhood obesity. Per Lizabeth & Chevese:
While it is admirable to promote the enjoyment of movement among people of all ages, the Biggest Loser is a platform that is inappropriate for this message. Due to the bullying, fat shaming, and mental, emotional and physical harm this show engages in, the appearance of the First Lady would be an implicit sanctioning of weight stigma and perpetuation of social injustice.
There is an enormous amount of support to be gained by allowing the vocal community of weight stigma advocates, eating disorders organizations,researchers and treatment professionals to help refine the Let's Move message in order to remove the dangerous, unintended aspects of the campaign and possibly promote the program.
Please help us to encourage the First Lady to utilize the compassionate and powerful community support of these professionals rather than the sensationalized, harmful platform of entertainment oriented shaming.
Ways to get involved:
1) Sign the petition on Change.org titled, First Lady Michelle Obama: Please Do Not Appear on the Biggest Loser and Instead Engage with the Advocacy Communities Specializing in Weight Stigma. Sign and share this petition with everyone you possibly can – e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Our goal is to obtain 25,000 signatures in the next week – a very short 10 days so please, be aggressive about spreading this link and the message that First Lady Michelle Obama should not appear on the Biggest Loser.
2) Spread the word via social media. Tweet, pin, and share the change.org petition, Pinterest memes from bingebehavior.com, and upload your videos of protest to YouTube. Use of tags such as #Firstlady, #MichelleObama, #BiggestLoser, #NBC and others that reach outside the traditional ED/bullying/obesity themes are helpful at spreading the word.
3) Stay tuned to the CFJ Counseling Blog - I will be posting updates on how you can support this call-to-action as they develop.
Want to know my thoughts? As an eating disorder specialist and advocate of the health at every size (HAES) and weight stigma awareness movements, I think the weight-loss focused approach to health taken by The Biggest Loser (TBL) is harmful. It perpetuates the idea the any and all weight loss is "good" despite the harmful behaviors (e.g., overexercising, extreme diet restriction, use of laxatives or diuretics, etc.) that may be taken to lose weight. Thus, using TBL as a platform for health behavior change would send a different message to America than the one I am hoping the First Lady is attempting to send - a message of mindful and moderate eating and exercise.
View the video below to hear others' thoughts.
Updated: October 21, 2013 at 2:45 PM CST