It’s a strange state of affairs when a man who has managed to successfully lose several stone of fat mass is demonised for celebrating his achievement on social media. This man was ‘Man Vs Food’ star Adam Richman, who after spending several years cramming down lots of greasy, sugar packed, highly calorific foods for the sake of entertainment managed to strip off the weight. It’s crazy to me that he receives more stick for losing the weight, than he ever got for gaining it in the first place! The abuse came via social media where he was hounded for his glorification of weight loss...yup, the man got attacked for celebrating his success in some much needed weight loss...
What did he do wrong?
The reason he came under such attack was the use of the hashtag #thinspiration. Yes, taken out of context the phrase may seem to glorify weight loss to the point of being ‘thin’…but what constitutes thin, surely that’s a relative and subjective term. Adam Richman is NOT skinny, a term that is associated with extreme thinness whereby a person can almost appear bony. He is actually weighing in at about the right weight relative to his height, and I think this deserves praise…but rather he has been demonised. Clearly #thinspiration is a term aimed at encouraging others to lose weight if they are overweight to begin with. Being overweight is directly associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. This is well understood and accepted…I think the reason people have a problem with the phrase #thinspiration is that ‘thin’ conjures thoughts and images of someone that is distinctly underweight. This is exactly why I think this phrase needs to be considered in context…Mr Richman is clearly not underweight, if he was underweight and promoting the term #thinspiration I could understand the concern. Rather, the ‘Man Vs Food’ star has actually demonstrated the way eating crap, calorie dense, nutrient poor food and drink can negatively impact on your weight. By no means do I condone his binge eating during the show, in the same way #thinspiration may be seen to encourage weight loss and potentially increase the prevalence of anaorexia nervosa, the excessive consumption of food (which occasionally made him sick) conjures thoughts of bulimia.
Hypocritical attitude OR Poor Handling?
So where on earth do you draw the line here people? Millions tuned in to watch him damage his health through the excessive, relentless consumption of large portions with very little said in the press. Now that the guy has gone the other way and cleaned up his diet, started to exercise and lost the weight every body has something to say. Was the use of the term #thinspiration advisable, taken out of context then maybe not, granted the hashtag function is designed to increase reach, so the term thinspiration may well find its way to many impressionable youngsters. But is #thinspiration glorifying skinny and excessive weight loss, I don’t think so…but could his success have been broadcasted in a better manner…probably.
The Guardian, (2014). Man vs Food star has show taken off air after 'thinspiration' rant. Retrieved 10th July, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/jul/02/man-vs-food-adam-richman-thinspiration-rant-man-finds-food