An XOJane writer used to be a big fan of Jillian Michaels and her take-no-prisoners style of fitness promotion — until she had the chance to speak to the celeb weight loss guru in person.
Me, I’ve never liked Jillian Michaels’ approach to body image, but XOJane’s Emily was a fan for some reason. And when she got to be part of a media roundtable involving the Biggest Loser star, she was pretty excited. (Again, I’d probably be over at the Pier watching the view from Starbucks, but I’ve never been one for sweating.)
But Emily got to see a side of Michaels that isn’t as surprising as it is just disappointing — after all, the trainer trades in people feeling badly enough about themselves to tune into her show, drop mad cheddar on her DVDs, and generally buy into the idea we need a Jillian Michaels making us feel bad.
So the XOJane writer asked about how Michaels’ culture of fat people being dissatisfied fits in to body acceptance, questioning the star trainer:
“A lot of our readers are really into size acceptance and Health at Every Size. Your brand is so aligned with weight loss, I just wonder how you feel about exercise for fitness vs. exercise for weight loss.”
Michaels was “brutally honest” in her reply, which is also weight loss industry speak for using cruelty to sell products. She first responded as if the idea of accepting one’s size is so silly of an idea it doesn’t even warrant comprehension, beginning:
“I don’t even really know what that means. I’ll define health for you. If your cholesterol is good, your blood sugar’s good, your blood pressure is good, that to me is healthy. I believe that you should accept yourself as every size. But I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that you’re physically healthy at every size because you’re not.”
That’s not all that controversial, as arguments can definitely be made for the adverse effects of excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle on lifespan and overall health. But then Michaels got a bit meaner, projecting her own feelings about the worth of other women’s bodies onto them and adding:
“And I also don’t believe that even though you might be 100 pounds overweight, you’re going, ‘Oh I’m good the way that I am.’ BULLS***. I don’t believe that you don’t wake up in the morning and feel uncomfortable in your skin.”
“I don’t believe that you don’t feel insecure when you pick your kid up from school. I don’t believe that you don’t feel uncomfortable when you’re naked in front of your husband or your wife for that matter. I don’t believe you.”
You can read XOJane’s entire piece by Emily on Jillian Michaels’ comments, which are also recorded in the above video. However, one has to wonder why anyone would buy in to such a self-hate based manner of improvement — surely all women, fat and thin alike, are entitled to pick their children up from school and be intimate with their mates without the specter of Michaels’ distaste hanging over them?