For the past several months, CNN has sponsored a series of articles profiling people across the country who have lost dramatic amounts of weight–most of them through healthy diet and exercise.
I have no problem with this in theory. The individuals that they have chosen have all been pretty clear-cut examples of people who needed to make lifestyle changes for the sake of their health. But, strangely, this doesn’t seem to be the angle that these stories take.
Take this excerpt from the most recent installment:
Over the next three years, she lost 120 pounds and dropped seven dress sizes. Wygal, who’s 5 feet 10 inches tall, says the fear of gaining weight motivates her to stick to her diet and exercise regimen because she never wants to look like she did at 295 pounds.
This woman was eating a diet that consisted primarily of fast foods and barely able to do more than 15 minutes of cardiovascular activity at a time, and they publish that her motivation to stick to her new, healthy lifestyle is the “fear” of “looking like she did at 295 pounds”?? Not fear of having a heart attack by the time she was 40. No, the fear of looking fat is apparently much worse.
And so, in the end, the message that’s sent isn’t really about health at all. And these sorts of transparently vapid messages make it so much easier for people whose health is adversely affected by their weight to discount weight loss messages entirely. It leaves a lot of people to lose in the end.