After this season's final contestant on the popular weight loss show The Biggest Loser confidently strode onstage last night, she was met with halting applause from the audience and looks of shock from the show's trainers. Rachel Frederickson, formerly 260lbs, now weighed in at 105 lbs. She'd won by losing 60% of her body weight.
The finale of The Biggest Loser has become so predictably ritualistic that it reads more like a church service than a TV show. The newly svelte contestants parade out, one at a time, as images of their former, fatter selves fade in the background. They step on a dramatically lit scale, drunk on positive affirmation, and tensely await the unnecessary but dramatic delay between assuming the weigh in position and hearing their numbers — how many pounds lost, and what percentage of their body weight those pounds constituted. By the finale at the end of the 5-month filming process, the transformations are dramatic and the studio is full of adoring, applauding fans and the whole thing is filmed live, so it's all very hooray for everyone Kum Ba Yah and carrot sticks. A tsunami of positivity that, until last night, had successfully drowned out years of skepticism from medical professionals and horror stories from former contestants (including one contestant's assertion that the show's grueling demands gave her an eating disorder).