Rachel Frederickson and Body Image: What Are We Teaching Our Girls?
By The Women’s Information Network
February 5, 2014
When Rachel Frederickson won the title on “The Biggest Loser” this year, lots of criticism emerged. Should we be pointing fingers, or should we be looking for chances to be inspired?
Millions of people sat and watched the finale of NBC’s hit show, “The Biggest Loser” on February 4, 2014. Almost everyone gasped when they saw the winner, Rachel Frederickson, emerge from behind the curtain to reveal her new body. Since the announcement, polls, social media, and magazines around the U.S. have been buzzing with controversy as people decide for themselves whether Rachel looks great or has gone too extreme on her weight loss goals.
We live in a world where every opinion is able to heard, and health & fitness (especially women’s health & fitness) seems to be one of the topics where the loudest opinions tend to surface. And why shouldn’t it be that way? Our daughters and sisters are faced with the struggles of meeting health and fitness standards every day. Social acceptance or rejection is often based upon how a person looks or what type of lifestyle they lead in regards to their personal health. Good women are fighting every day to create a more equal playing field by redefining the world’s view on “healthy” vs. “skinny.”
With that being said, we also need to recognize that while we should be encouraging girls and young women to strive for optimal health and fitness, we should also recognize that everybody is different and therefore reacts differently to foods and exercise. Surely, then, we cannot truly define what “normal” really means, especially in the health world. “Normal” should be defined as your personal best. Your normal is not the same as Rachel Frederickson’s normal.
If we can say, “Today I’ve tried my hardest. Today I’ve pushed myself to new heights. Today I have succeeded,” then we are reaching our personal best with both our physical fitness AND our emotional fitness. If all we can say at the end of the day is, “She sets an unrealistic expectation,” or “He expects too much out of people,” then how is that helping us reach that daily personal goal that we’ve set for ourselves? Doesn’t that pull us down and discourage us more than it lifts us up and inspires us? Judgment and comparison do nothing but discourage and embitter.
True, there are those who live in the limelight that clearly set an unrealistic and unhealthy expectation for women. Many models have surgeries to enhance or even remove natural characteristics of the body in order to fit in designer clothing. Many celebrities turn to eating disorders in order to gain parts in movies or deals with high-end advertising companies. These are facts – these are real-life situations. However, to assume that every woman who has lost an extreme amount of weight or is termed “skinny” suffers from anorexia or goes under the knife to reach a fitness goal – even someone who was 260 pounds at one point – is in and of itself unfair and demeaning. Who are we to say that someone’s fitness goals are impossible? Who are we to define someone else’s body as “correct?” Isn’t that what everyone else in the world is trying to do? Aren’t we trying to create a more accepting world for our daughters and sisters? What are we doing for that cause if we in turn are judging other women as harshly as we feel the world is judging us?
Let’s bring the focus in women’s health back to the mental and emotional level. Let’s redefine health, not based upon physical appearance, but based upon goals and actions and accomplishments. Let’s stop tearing women down based on what we see and start supporting women with encouragement and praise for their accomplishments. Let’s rejoice with one another when a goal is reached. Let’s choose to be inspired instead of choosing to compare. That, my friends, is where a truly healthy society will come from. That is where everyone will feel they have a place. That is where mental, physical, and emotional health will be in balance.
Let’s pull together as women this year and continue to fight for a more healthy world, but let’s do it the right way. Here’s to a healthy and happy 2014!