Former Biggest Loser Australia coach Michelle Bridges has finally been confronted about her role on the reality TV show and how it impacted contestants’ body image, weight and mental health.
On Wednesday night’s episode of The Project, Bridges appeared alongside a panel of body positive activists to discuss topics including body acceptance, body image, obesity and Bridger’s former TV gig The Biggest Loser.
If you were anywhere near a TV in the 2000s, The Biggest Loser was one of those shows that could be seen as confronting. As a child (maybe I shouldn’t have been watching the show) I remember being so uncomfortable with the constant weigh-ins and seeing people of different sizes struggle and cry while doing bonkers exercises.
Since the show was cancelled in 2017, a lot of people have looked back at The Biggest Loser and realised how damaging it was to viewers. During The Project’s panel, body positive activist April Hélène-Horton mentioned that she was “nervous” coming to the round table discussion because of Bridges and her previous gig.
“I would genuinely say that show The Biggest Loser was one of the most traumatic that has ever happened to me,” the activist said to Bridges.
Bridges replied to Hélène-Horton, expressing she hears the activists’ trauma.
Bridges said: “And going on a show like that back in the day, I really had to dig deep and question my morals around why I am in the health industry and why I’m in the fitness industry.”
The Aussie fitness pro admitted that the show would never work if it was rebooted today.
“When I look back on it, 17 years ago, it was a totally different culture back then. I don’t think that show would work today. In fact, I know it wouldn’t,” Bridges said.
Hélène-Horton soon realised that she could relate to Bridges on the “struggle to be perfect.”
The activist said: “You, like me, are somebody who struggled against the idea that you need to be perfect. But the edit [on The Biggest Loser] still made me feel like someone who had the same values as you … would make me feel shame.”
In case you’ve never seen it, The Biggest Loser was a reality TV competition where overweight contestants of all shapes and sizes attempt to shred the most kilos through an array of intense training and dieting.
Bridges first appeared on the show in 2007, joining its second season as a fitness coach. The Biggest Loser trainer stayed with the show up until 2016 and during that time, she became a household name.
As someone who has struggled with childhood obesity and is continuing to struggle with weight issues, shows like The Biggest Loser will forever be stuck in the back of my mind. The worst part is that those messages impact everyday tasks like eating, exercising, travelling and shopping.
I’m so glad Bridges, as a former Biggest Loser coach, is able to recognise the reason why the reality TV show was so problematic.
Now I need someone to flame the producers of Honey, We’re Killing The Kids because that show truly fucked with my mental health and body image.