In an interview with AM2DM, a live morning show by BuzzFeed News, fitness guru Jillian Michaels, who rose to fame as a trainer on The Biggest Loser, drew intense criticism for her fatphobic and ignorant comments about Lizzo's body. The outspoken personal trainer has said before that she believes "obesity in itself is not something that should be glamorized."
She reiterated her shortsighted views on AM2DM when discussing Lizzo. "I love celebrities like Lizzo or Ashley Graham," host Alex Berg says in the clip, "who are really preaching self-acceptance. And I love that they're putting images out there that we don't normally get to see, of bodies that we don't get to see being celebrated." That's when Jillian Michaels interrupts with her nonsense.
"But why are we celebrating her body?" she asks. "Why does it matter? Why aren't we celebrating her music? 'Cause it isn't going to be awesome if she gets diabetes." It took the entirety of Twitter all of 0.01 seconds to jump all over that. I thought we were beyond making jokes about equating fatness and diabetes. I thought we all understood by now that fatness itself is not an indicator of health.
However, that's evidently not the case. All Jillian Michaels' comments will do is reinforce harmful, outdated ideas about bodily health. One Twitter user wrote, "More people die from complications of anorexia than any other mental illness, but sure, let's ask for Lizzo's blood work."
"The only reason we know who Jillian Michaels is," another person wrote, "is because of a reality show where people used incredibly unhealthy practices in order to lose as much weight as possible — not to become the most physically fit or to get the healthiest vitals — in a dangerously short time." She's not exactly the pillar of health excellence and fitness knowledge she purports to be.
Google "Health at Every Size." Focusing on losing weight alone is not a guaranteed path to better health. People of every single size have their very own, personal health issues that have nothing to do with the size of their bodies.
Not to mention, Lizzo sweats and moves around every night on stage for hours on end. Her body size has absolutely nothing to do with what's going on inside of it, and it's unacceptable for Jillian Michaels to assume she knows anything about Lizzo's health.
The video of the clip has hundreds and hundreds of responses, most from people who understand that the ideas that Jillian Michaels is spouting in this interview are not just untrue but harmful to those who may still struggle with body-image issues. People like Lizzo, who are demonstrating that you can and should be comfortable in your own skin, are doing far more good for people's health than Jillian Michaels is.
Author and comedian Sara Benincasa wrote a particularly incisive thread in response to this interview. And one point she brings up that has been all but ignored is the race factor. White women so often feel entitled to pass judgment on black bodies, particularly those that belong to strong, black women.
Lizzo has repeatedly been the center of conversations about the policing of black women particularly because she lives unapologetically and because she is strong and loud and proud and shows off her body. Jillian Michaels might not conscious about her jump to criticize black women, but it happens nonetheless.
We still have aways to go to combat fatphobia, outdated views of health and the moral superiority of thinness, and racism, and Jillian Michaels' comments during the AM2DM interview are a stark reminder of that fact. Thank goodness there were thousands of voices there at the ready to drown her out.