You Didn’t Sign Up for This

by Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. on January 24, 2011

by Golda Poretsky, HHC

It’s been more than 8 months since I first published this series of posts on my interview with Biggest Loser finalist, Kai Hibbard.  And yet, those posts are still swirling around the Internet, and account for about a third of the comments I still receive.

As you can imagine, not all of those comments get posted, even though I do approve a lot of comments that I don’t agree with.  One of the most common comments I get is that Kai and the other contestants volunteered for the show, signed an agreement, and could leave at any time if they weren’t happy.  For example, here’s one I received last week:

“Whilst I accept that some of the treatment of the ‘stars’ does sound unsympathetic at best and very harsh at worst, as many people have already pointed out – it is voluntary. I’m sure if Kai wanted to leave at any time she could – she was not being held prisoner.”

As to the contention that Kai wasn’t being held prisoner, I don’t really know.  I can’t imagine that if she had gone to the producers and said “I don’t care what you say, I want off the show, I want a ride to the airport, I’m out,” whether they really would have let her go or used the same brainwashing tricks that she alleges were used on her from the first day.

But here’s the thing, would anyone sign up for The Biggest Loser if they knew the truth?  And more broadly, would anyone sign up for Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, other diets, bariatric surgery, etc. if they knew the truth of the serious complications, weight fluctuations, and head trips that they were really in for?

I would contend that they would not.

Shows like The Biggest Loser and their ilk, the American Medical Association, the pharmaceutical industry, the diet industry, the bariatric industry, the plastic surgery industry and others spend billions of dollars a year convincing you that being fat is deadly, causes disease, makes you unattractive, unacceptable, unworthy.  They make you think that until you change your body and lose weight, you are less of a person.  They make you believe that you should be spending your precious life hating your body and struggling with food.  This sort of brainwashing is big business.

But since so many commenters have focused on the fact that deciding to be on The Biggest Loser (or diet, or get surgery etc.) is a voluntary agreement, let’s talk about the law of contracts.

It is settled law that there are certain instances where a contract, even if signed, is not valid.  These factors void an otherwise solid-looking contract.  These affirmative defenses include fraud, undue influence, and duress.

I believe that the diet/pharmaceutical/bariatric/plastic surgery industry has had an undue influence on people as a whole, and I believe they are committing fraud every day.  Diet ads should come with huge warnings about the fact that if you go on their diet, you’re going to gain the weight back, and likely more, unless you’re a statistical anomaly.  Bariatric surgeons should tell you that you’re going to have serious issues assimilating food, that complications are extremely common, and that you’re probably going to gain a lot of the weight back.  The pharmaceutical industry should let you know that their diet drugs don’t work and cause more side effects than anything.

If this reality were laid out on the table, in essence, if you were treated like an adult and given the truth, would you ever sign up for a diet, or diet pills, or the freaking Biggest Loser?

I know that I wouldn’t have.  And I truly hope that this blog will keep others from making this same mistake.

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Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.

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