Observations (And A Poll!) On The Lizzo-Jillian Michaels Bodyshaming Controversy

“The Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels was being interviewed on the Buzzfeed series “AM to DM” when she opined, “We should always be inclusive, but, you cannot glorify obesity. It’s dangerous. It kills people.”

Well, of course she believes that. She’s a trainer. Her business is fitness, so it would be hypocritical if she said that it didn’t matter if people aren’t fit.

Interviewer Alex Berg , however, cited the  example of African American singer Lizzo, who is unquestionably obese and who flaunts her fat.  Michaels was unimpressed, saying,

“Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Why aren’t we celebrating her music? ‘Cause it isn’t going to be awesome if she gets diabetes,” Michaels said. “I’m just being honest. I love her music, like my kid loves her music, but there’s never a moment when I’m like, ‘I’m so glad she’s overweight.’ Why do I even care? Why is it my job to care about her weight?”

Berg later tweeted,

What I was going to say here is that Lizzo has been incredibly important in giving so many of us a possibility model for accepting our bodies as we are and celebrating bodies that are normally ridiculed. Had to restrain myself from defending Lizzo’s honor!

Now Michaels is being flamed on social media as a fat-shaming bigot. Oh–and a racist of course, because she is white and Lizzo is black. I’m not even going to address that, as there is no question in my mind that if Berg had mentioned an overweight white singer like Wynonna Judd or Adele, Michaels would have said the same thing.

I will observe, however…

  • As in so many debates, the inarticulateness of the adversaries is a problem. The question isn’t whether Michaels should “care” about Lizzo’s body; the question is whether it should be, as Berg claims, it should be off-limits for criticism. As for “celebrating” her appearance, that word is also confounding. If an alcoholic artist says, “I’m a drunk and that’s the way I am, I’m not apologizing for it,” do we have to celebrate alcoholism?”

Berg would be on sounder ground if he advocated respecting people’s own choices in their lives, including their choices regarding their weight.

  • If part of Lizzo’s act is being fat, and it works for her, it is not Michael’s place to attack her priorities.  Micaels makes her living by being fit and selling fitness. Great. Lizzo’s brand is Proud Fat Singer. If she has concluded that she’ll get richer, sell more records and have a better life fat than she would being Jillian-thin, that’s a valid choice.

Looking like Michaels also takes time. Those who decide they would rather spend that time reading, playing, socializing or creating are making trade-offs just as valid as Michaels’, who has decided to spend her time exercising rather than reading books, based on her interviews.

  • Now, those choosing to be fat should know what they are choosing and the attendant risks. There is nothing inappropriate about a fitness trainer explaining why a body like Lizzo’s has its long-term drawbacks.

Of course, we all know the real culprits are dollar stores.

Your poll:

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17 thoughts on “Observations (And A Poll!) On The Lizzo-Jillian Michaels Bodyshaming Controversy

  1. Some where along the way, society has decided that we have ‘celebrate’ obesity in order to not shame people. Utter nonsense. It’s entirely possible to avoid shaming someone, without celebrating their unhealthy lifestyle. Fat people can be fit, but obesity takes a toll long term on a body. Bones, joints, and organs suffer long term. To think otherwise defies not only science, but practical thinking.
    People who are obese can be role models for many different reasons, but certainly not for their commitment to great health.

  2. Lizzo’s brand is Proud Fat Singer. If she has concluded that she’ll get richer, sell more records and have a better life fat than she would being Jillian-thin, that’s a valid choice.

    Doesn’t this really go against the Categorical Imperative? If my choice leads me and society to a worse outcome it’s not a valid choice, in fact we all, Julian included, actually have a moral responsibility to speak up against it no? I’ve seen you argue many times that we have the responsibility to stand up against uncivil and unethical behavior when we see it. While we should not engage in body shaming, I’m not sure we should glorify obesity.

  3. This kind of reminds me of the people who demand that we celebrate diversity. The more different ethic groups we have in a society, the more problems the society will have. The former Yugoslavia is a good example of this. When someone says we should celebrate something, it’s usually a cover for support my agenda or else!

  4. It is funny to me how liberals get all butt hurt about this stuff, but then have no problem calling a conservative fat, or saying Trump has small hands (wink wink), or calling people neck beards etc… it seems that it only counts when it is some liberal who is getting criticized. Frankly it is just too much, and I have stopped paying attention to them as they are hypocrites and full of shit.

    Women are strong and can do what they want… Except Kellyann Conway, or that Fat bitch Sara Sanders…. I guess it is ok to shame them for sitting on a couch wrong, or being overweight? I have heard liberals fat shame, body shame, call people ugly, call people stupid, insinuate they eat too much fast food, giggle about perceived penis size. Remember when they shamed Melinia for being a model? Remember when they posted the nudes of her in the Post or something (I forget where). Can you imagine if there were nudes of Chelsea Clinton — do you thing anyone would post that, or would it be like Eric Ciaramella where no news agency is even allowed to say his name even though it is now public knowledge? I remember after the Fappining (where the celebrity iCloud accounts were hacked).. I don’t recall anyone posting nudes of Jennifer Lawrence or Aubrey Plaza.

  5. An excerpt from: https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2019-09-19/obesity-in-america-a-guide-to-the-public-health-crisis

    “Obesity has become a public health crisis in the United States. The medical condition, which involves having an excessive amount of body fat, is linked to severe chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and cancer. It causes about 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S. each year – nearly as many as smoking, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
    The financial cost of obesity is high as well. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.”
    While researchers say the obesity epidemic began in the U.S. in the 1980s, there has been a sharp increase in obesity rates in the U.S. over the last decade. Nearly 40% of all adults over the age of 20 in the U.S. – about 93.3 million people – are currently obese, according to data published in JAMA in 2018. Every state in the U.S. has more than 20% of adults with obesity, according to the CDC – a significant uptick since 1985, when no state had an obesity rate higher than 15%. Certain states have higher rates than others: there are more obese people living in the South (32.4%) and Midwest (32.3%) than in other parts of the country.”

    So, obesity is a crisis in the United States. But it’s just a lifestyle choice? Obese people need to see role models who are obese so they can feel good about being part of a crisis?

  6. While I think the singer is pushing her luck with weight this high in the long term, fat-shaming happens far more than extreme cases. Marilyn Monroe was obese by modern standards, which is pure ‘for your own good’ progressive nannying. Being overweight is partly genetic, A friend and I lived very closely in college, but she was rangy texas stock and ate the same as I. I gained the freshman ten despite very active crossing campus constantly for disperse class buildings, work, and clubs on foot only, She couldn’t believe why I was heavier. Little discourages those trying to lose weight or at least not gain more, as nagging. It’s a daily struggle like stopping the tide with a bucket… do something useful or be quiet. Ragging does nothing but create anger and resentment.

    Nagging for your own good sounds exactly the same if you are overweight or if you are a smoker or any of other disapproved flaws by people feeling superior. It’s not really helping them, it’s only to make the critic feel superior and justify any other behavior that would be cruel if just done straight out. If family members, the shaming leaves deep scars that nothing else they do is important or laudible if they are a smoker and they don’t deserve affection. Her singing, her energy, her style should still be admired, but too many treat admiration as all or nothing, if someone has a flaw, be it smoking, weight, or wearing a MAGA cap it really should not be the reason to attack/dismiss/shame/ignore their other accomplishments. These are the same people taxing diet soda extra and banning straws regardless of those who need straws. The coasts really like to think that middle america that voted Trump in is fat and white supremacist, easier to see what they think caused them to lose than think.

  7. So we just caught morbidly obese “Jabba the Jihadi” in Mosul.

    Everyone. And I mean everyone, is dunking on his weight.

    If fat shaming is actually taboo, then surely dunking on this guy for being a member of a blood thirsty and monstrous regime should be enough without dunking on his gargantuan frame. Right?

    Or is fat shaming actually not taboo, but only something woke people pay lip service to?

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