You have to be living under a rock to have missed the hype surrounding Khloe Kardashian’s new weight loss series, Revenge Body. Airing on E!, the home of the Kardashian/Jenner clan’s many forays into reality television, Revenge Body focuses on men and women from different walks of life who all have one thing in common: they want to shed some weight and look fine as hell in order to get back at former friends and ex-partners who’ve wronged them. The premise may be new to TV, but it’s certainly not a new concept. The problem is, it’s a terribly harmful one.
On the show’s premiere episode, which aired January 12, Khloe met with Stephanie and Will, both of whom were nowhere close to being particularly unhealthily overweight. Stephanie suffered from incredibly low self-confidence and considered herself to be the “D.U.F.F.” of her friend group, going so far as to reveal that her former best friend Miranda often told her to her face that she’d gotten “fat” and needed to lose weight. Newsflash, Stephanie: Miranda wasn’t your friend! Will was feeling the rejection of his ex-boyfriend Kyle, who broke up with him purely because Will had gained 40 lbs. and Kyle no longer found him attractive. Sounds like a great partner!
Both Stephanie and Will hoped that by working out twice a day for five to seven days a week and following a strict (but barely defined on the show) diet, plus undergoing a celeb-style makeover, they’d be able to look their Hollywood best and make their ex-BFF and beau sorry — and hopefully come crawling back, begging for another chance to be in their lives. Uh, what?
The idea of a reality TV show about weight loss isn’t new, but that doesn’t make it healthy — especially when you add in Kardashian’s “revenge” element. The idea that changing your appearance for the sole purpose of getting a reaction from someone who hurt you when they were meant to care about you is not only silly and short-sighted, it’s downright damaging.
The fact of the matter is that a friend who calls you fat, tells you that you need to lose weight, excludes you from the group based on your appearance or generally makes you feel like crap IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. A boyfriend who tells you that he’s no longer attracted to you because you’ve put on some weight and then breaks up with you because you no longer represent his sexual ideal IS NOT A GOOD PARTNER. You don’t need their apologies or their shock and awe, and you certainly don’t want them back in your life. What you need is self-respect and perhaps some intense therapy.
There’s nothing wrong with getting fit and really focusing on your health. In fact, eating well always leads to feeling well, and working out not only helps combat depression and anxiety, but it gives you a rush of endorphins, gets your blood flowing, and makes you stronger and healthier as a whole. But if the motivation for doing those things is anything other than “I have one body and I want to take the best possible care of it,” there’s a serious problem.
What Revenge Body fails to focus on is the mental and emotional element of the contestants’ desire to take part in the program. Instead of really digging deep into the pain and emotional trauma that’s led to the participants’ extreme lack of self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy or processing them in order to make them FEEL better instead of just look better, getting revenge on the people in their lives was applauded and even encouraged. Yikes.
Getting healthy is about more than just being thin, and it’s more than a 12-week reality TV process full of celebrity trainers, dermatologists, stylists and makeup artists. It’s about more than just making jaws drop and the people who screwed you over seethe with jealousy when they see how good you look. In fact, getting healthy isn’t about that at all — it’s about loving yourself and knowing your worth enough that you don’t need revenge because you’ve already moved on from people who clearly couldn’t see how amazing you are just as you were.