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The Biggest Loser Shocker: Was Rachel Frederickson Too Thin To Win?

Submitted by on February 10, 2014 – 1:33 pm2 Comments
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The Biggest Loser winner Rachel Fredrickson made headlines last Tuesday during the live season 15 finale when it was revealed that she had dropped 155 pounds, causing many to drop their jaws in shock.

At only 5-foot-5, the 24-year-old former swimmer transformed her body from a size 22 to a size 0, weighing in at just 105 pounds. But the confetti flying through the air as Frederickson was awarded the $250,000 grand prize couldn’t hide the faces of two of the show trainers, Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels, who looked more than a little disturbed (watch the video below) as the seemingly frail Frederickson smiled. And they weren’t the only ones. Millions of viewers took to Twitter to express their health concerns and downright disappointment and to question if Frederickson had developed an eating disorder during her time on the ranch.

“The Biggest Loser winner is the very picture of anorexia, an affliction whose lifeblood is attention,” Jacob Ward tweeted. “Nice job, NBC.”

Added another woman, “There needs to be a red line that disqualifies finalists for too much weight loss.”

Michaels and Harper also weighed in on the controversy on Twitter and absolved themselves of any responsibility regarding the matter. “Bob and I want to take a moment to congratulate all of the ‘BL’ contestants on their hard work,” Michaels wrote. “We’re not comfortable commenting on Rachel’s journey because [we] weren’t her trainers and weren’t given any opportunity to work with her at any point. Any questions about the contestants on the ‘Biggest Loser’ should be directed to the show’s producers.”

Of course, NBC and Shine America, the production company behind The Biggest Loser, were quick to defend the show. “We support Rachel and all of ‘The Biggest Loser’ contestants who have shared their journeys over the past 15 seasons,” they wrote in a statement. “We remain committed to helping contestants achieve healthy weight loss and live healthier lifestyles, and to inspiring viewers to do the same.”

In response to the backlash, Rachel’s trainer Dolvett Quince took to Instagram to defend his client. “Please try not to look at one slice of Rachel’s journey and come to broad conclusions,” he wrote. “Rachel’s heath is and has always been my main concern, and her journey to good health has not yet ended!!”

So the question remains: Is Rachel healthy? Although Frederickson flaunted the loss of 59.62 percent of her body weight, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services based on her BMI (body mass index) she is underweight. But despite the public debate, the tiniest winner in “Biggest Loser” history isn’t taking it personal and is maintaining her stance that she is not too skinny.

“I just see a strong, confident woman,” she told The Miami Herald of looking in the mirror. “I’ve never felt this great, and it’s very exciting. I’ve officially found that proud, confident girl that I lost. I was an athletic national level swimmer. And to have that athlete come back again is just truly an amazing feeling. I’m going to embrace the new me and continue this journey. My body’s going to balance and find its rhythm with the new maintenance, and it will be perfect.”

Personally, I can relate to Rachel. At 17 years old, I was told by my doctor that if I didn’t lose weight I would have a stroke by the time I was 30. But that didn’t stop me from tipping the scales at 220 pounds at 20. But by the summer between my junior and senior year in college, I decided it was time for a change. So I joined Weight Watchers, way before Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson made it cool. Eventually, I would go on to lose 70 pounds, so I know firsthand the stress and exhilaration that comes from embarking on any weight loss journey. There were moments when I would cry myself to sleep after a dinner where my fab skinny friends ate McDonalds while I pretended to enjoy my boring but “good for me” salad. And there were times when I would curse the heavens because making a workout meant missing a hot party. But thankfully, my hard work paid off and my highs and lows weren’t broadcasted on national television for the world to see and tweet about.

I think it’s sad that Rachel’s accomplishment, which she spent so many hours sweating her butt off for, is being overshadowed by so much controversy. Without witnessing her journey firsthand, calling her anorexic or a skeleton is just as damaging as the fat-shaming tabloids have done to stars like Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Mindy Kaling, Janet Jackson, Jessica Simpson, Lady Gaga, Tyra Banks, Ke$ha or Jennifer Love Hewitt for not being a size 2. And I think we can all agree these women look beautiful and healthy.

At the end of the day, The Biggest Loser is a contest and Rachel was competing for the title and a quarter of a million dollars. Do I think Rachel is too skinny? Yes, but that’s only my opinion and I remember how annoyed I was listening to the unsolicited opinions of many while I worked towards my goal of 154 pounds. At 5-foot-6, some people thought the number was too high. Friends and family advised me to embrace my curves and that the number was too low. Meanwhile, my nutritionist at the time told me my (then weight) of 175 pounds was just fine and at the same time the BMI calculator warned that I was almost obese. Confused to the core, I quickly realized that the only opinion that mattered was my own.

Today, I work out five times a week and flaunt my budding abs in crop tops as often as possible. My blood pressure and cholesterol levels, my doctor tells me, are the pinnacle of perfection so I sometimes laugh when I check in with a BMI calculator that STILL says I am almost overweight. But I am happy. Not because I won a reality competition, or because some stranger tweeted that I should be, but because, like Rachel, I accomplished something I didn’t know was possible. I would venture to say that now that “the game” is over, Rachel will gain some weight. The professional voiceover artist has already admitted she will be scaling back her workouts as she settles back into real life.

My hope for Rachel, myself, and anyone struggling with the scale is that we will all continue to gain confidence despite our size and maintain it no matter what anyone says. Because at the end of the day, that’s the prize and no one should weigh in on your self-confidence and self esteem but yourself.

Take a glance at some of the “Biggest Losers” from the past 15 seasons below. Do you think Rachel was too thin to win?

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