Skinnying Around

I feel compelled to join the Great Internet Yammer about how skinny Rachel Frederickson got on Biggest Loser. I loathe Biggest Loser for a loooooong list of ethical and medical and personal reasons, all of which are listed in an earlier post. I don’t even know that I could list a “biggest” reason for loathing and despising it–its flaws are so huge, its ethics are so vile, and its medicine so bogus that it’s impossible to sort out.

But the hate/love/opinion-storm that’s swirling around Ms. Frederickson (with her full consent, clearly) now is kind of dumb. She’s not thinner than the average model. Okay, they’re mostly dangerously thin, and not infrequently prone to eating disorders, but they don’t get on the cover of People for it. Christy Brinkely does for still looking really, really good in a bathing suit at 60 (genes, people, genes. and a lot of hard work, and some photoshopping maybe, a little surgical help–most likely, a little Botox–she admits to this, a really good elastic-bandage suit, maybe photo-ed lying on her back so nothing sags, and genes), but Ms. Frederickson, who presumably wouldn’t have gone on to BL in the first place if she weren’t interested in making her life a public spectacle, gets on with her “confession” that she might have gone to far with her 6 hours a day of working out on 1,600 calories. Which, btw, have earned her a very lovely set of quads. And we’re surprised (or collectively profess to be) that someone on a weight loss competition gets a little obsessively competitive and endangers her health ( 6 hours on 1,600 calories is, in fact, dangerous) to WINWINWIN? Oh, come on.

A. She will most likely not sustain her weight loss. Statistics are not in her favor. Unless, of course, she really has developed exercise-anorexia. In which case, she’ll either get proper therapy or just get sick.

B. It’s her body. If she wants it to weigh 105 lbs, so what?

C. Kudos to her for figuring out how to extend her 15 minutes of fame with her “confession.” Repulsed kudos, but kudos. In the Reality TV world, hanging on to your spotlight equals money, which is kind of the point. She played the game well. Let us not participate in the morally void universe of that game by giving a shit.

D. Here’s me being catty, because, oh hell, I’m writing about it (participating in the stupid conversation): as nice as her quads look, her face looks 40 (she’s 24). I assume this will improve as her body has a chance to process the loss, and as she puts back on a little weight. Also, the “reveal” dress was ugly. If I’d lost all that weight, I’d have damn well made them give me a cuter dress. Maybe she liked it. But I have the distinct impression that the producers chose that one to “soften” the hard angles of her new look. Irony abounds.

There was a slide show beneath the story in HuffPost with 600+ “before & after” photos of successful weight loss cases. of course I looked–I got up to about 263 before I reminded myself that I had better things to do. I will say that the ones I smiled at were the ones where the “after” photos were unskinny. I thought “good for you” at those folks for avoiding extremes. I still suspect they all lost whatever weight they lost too fast, and their bodies will probably rebel–because the way we approach the whole subject is just effed up, to use the proper medical term. But, at least in those photos, they looked like people who were at least trying to make sane, peaceful contracts with their bodies. “Looked like” being the operative term here, of course.

There. Now I’ve weighed in. Pun intended.


The Christie Brinkley thing actually interested me more, because I’m coming up on that one this year and it is causing me to think a lot. It has even caused me to begin something that wouldn’t pass for a skin-care regimen in most circles, but is a radical increase in attention for me (an eye cream and a self-mixed sugar-and-avocado oil scrub does not a skincare regimen make according to any fashion mag/blog out there, I don’t think, but it’s radical for me, even if it is, technically too-little-too-late), and I’m still working on my experiment in reallyreallyreally slow weight loss in an effort to require less, well, effort from my body to keep doing what it will still do. I’m a little panicked about the number, I will admit, but not because of what I’m looking like at 59-and-counting, but because I what I haven’t gotten done, which is a whole loooong, whiny conversation no one sane wants to read, except for the part where I acknowledge that it’s probably better to hit 60 with a long to-do list than a with a what-the-fuck-do-I-do-now void.

Ms. Brinkely has had 4 husbands (interesting men, all, which leads one to suspect that she’s maybe a moderately interesting human aside from her looks), which makes her current state-of-beauty even more remarkable in some ways, because that is a lot of emotional brouhaha, a lot of wear-and-tear on the heart. And she seems remarkably (publicly, at least) perky about it. I don’t know what her marriages have been like–other than short and unsuccessful–but my own experience of my much-treasured 37-year run is that it’s an awful lot of (blessedly worthwhile) work and I don’t know that I’d even be able to walk upright if I’d done this kind of work and taken this kind of constant risk 4 times.

I’ve spent a couple of days trying to decide whether I am even capable of cleanly deciding whether I’d want to look that young. I think I’m probably not capable of a clean decision on that one, but I have, of course, made the decision anyway. I think I’ve had periods (teens and 20s) when I was kind of hot, weight notwithstanding–and even though half of me felt huge and ugs, I will admit that there was another half of me that felt hot and was prone to a bit of swagger. I never stopped people in the street, but I could exert some attraction when I wanted to and it was nice. Of course, at the time it never felt like enough (both a straightforward human thing, that, I think, and the product of a significantly, though not uniquely, weird-ass disjointed relationship with a father who kept telling me I was ugly), but from this perspective, that’s pretty much a “so what?” kind of thing. I do dislike my size, but I do not dislike my looks, paradoxical as that may sound (well, my knees are kind of horrible, but that’s courtesy of my ham-handed, sexist surgeon, and they work, so okay). And my life doesn’t depend on my looks, which, in some sense, Brinkley’s does. Which would really kind of suck, I think. So I suspect that I wouldn’t want to be mistake-able for a 30-year old. “Suspect” is the best I can do, but I think it’s enough. I think i think there’s something to be said for looking like who you are. Except maybe the good version (which might include, for some of us, a facelift or some other “major” intervention). But that’s just me. Maybe Brinkley feels differently. Which is fine, too. Nonetheless, I will admit that the first thing I thought when looking at that People cover was that that bathing suit looked awfully uncomfortable.


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