Two years ago, Jillian Michaels said goodbye to the television show that made her a household name because she wanted to spend time building her family. A couple of years and two adorable little ones later, Michaels is heading back to The Biggest Loser. And a big reason for her return is the show’s commitment to tackling an important and controversial topic, childhood obesity. However, I’m a little concerned as to how the trainer with a notoriously firm approach will work with teens who shouldn’t be focused on weight as much as health and body acceptance.
The celebrity trainer told Al Roker on the Today Show that the program will incorporate three teenagers onto each team. Obviously, the situation will be different for the kids than it is for the adults. Michaels talked about how they’re going to change their approach to make it more fitting for the younger set. She explained,
“They’re not going to be on the ranch and they’re not going to be competing. It’s obviously something that needs to be handled with kid gloves, but it’s something that needs to be handled. As a mom of two and as someone who was an overweight kid, it’s something that I’m really passionate about and that I want to be involved in.”
I’ll admit that personally I’m a little uncomfortable with the idea of weight loss competition being directed at teenagers. I’m uncomfortable with the program for adults. The idea of filming and publicizing teens as the struggle with something like personal appearance and fitness makes me more than a little concerned. Al Roker pointed out the elephant in the room, especially when it comes to Michaels’ “tough love” training approach, by saying, “Look, this is a very tricky topic. Kids’ egos… their psyche… You can’t do what you did with adults with kids.” Michaels seemed ready for the question though, stating:
“The producers of the show have been consulting some of the top experts, pediatricians and child psychologists, to help us deal with this in the most delicate and appropriate ways. For example, we won’t be saying things to kids like, ‘How much weight did you lose?’ It’s about getting them healthy, using words like ‘healthy.’ They won’t be getting on a scale. It’s about getting them into the softball team, things like that. So we’re very cognizant of how touchy it is, how controversial it is.”
As all moms know, it is a controversial topic. And that might be just why Michaels and the show wanted to take it on, as a way to bring attention back to a reality competition that was starting to struggle. No matter how the decision was made though, the American viewing public is about to see a group of teenagers participate in a show that isn’t afraid to show the ugly side of losing weight.
We all know that kids’ health is important. It’s a hotly debated topic, even here at Mommyish. And in general, I think that the more voices in the conversation, the better. But if The Biggest Loser doesn’t pay close attention to those “health-focused” principles once the show hits the air, they could face a lot of criticism from parents who don’t want to see teens’ self-esteem destroyed in the name of fitness.
Now that Jillian Michaels has two little ones at home, she will have a different perspective when it comes to helping young people. Let’s hope that she uses that knowledge to give lots of positive and inspiring motivation. Even more, let’s hope that the new mom can help kids love their bodies whether they get six-pack-perfect abs or not.
One thing is for sure, the franchise that’s been around since 2004 definitely found a way to get itself back in the spotlight. And plenty of parents will be watching to see what they do with all that new attention.
(Photo: Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com)