The fitness personality and former “Biggest Loser” trainer made a few crude remarks about the Grammy-nominated artist’s body on BuzzFeed’s Twitter show “AM to DM” on Wednesday when co-host (and former HuffPost producer) Alex Berg mentioned she appreciated celebrities like Ashley Graham and Lizzo who preach self-acceptance and celebrate their bodies as they are.
.@JillianMichaels on Lizzo: "Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Why aren't we celebrating her music? 'Cause it isn't gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes." pic.twitter.com/FkKBd8J87b— AM2DM by BuzzFeed News (@AM2DM) January 8, 2020
“Why are we celebrating her body?” Michaels retorted, referring to Lizzo. “Why does it matter? Why aren’t we celebrating her music? ’Cause it isn’t gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes.”
Michaels didn’t stop there. When Berg attempted to counter, she spoke over her and said:
“I’m just being honest. Like, I love her music … but there’s never a moment where I’m like, ‘And I’m so glad that’s she’s overweight!’ … Why is it my job to care about her weight?”
Many people on Twitter were disturbed by Michaels’s comments, calling them outdated and fat-phobic.
People who have incredibly deep-seated self-hatred and have spun it into a "fitness" empire are particularly inclined to say shit like this. Jillian Michaels has successfully projected her body dysmorphia outwards for years and made a ton of cash off it. https://t.co/ui19darO7J— Sara Benincasa (@SaraJBenincasa) January 8, 2020
If I had been exposed to more Lizzo and less Jillian Michaels when I was younger, maybe I wouldn't have spent half my life hating my body. https://t.co/tUs4NYesS5— Ashley Fairbanks (@ziibiing) January 8, 2020
Jillian Michaels came to prominence torturing fat people on television for entertainment. She is loudly and proudly anti-fat because otherwise she can’t make money. Her living depends on anti-fat bigotry. https://t.co/LHLQlpNoYE— Mx. Amadi (@amaditalks) January 8, 2020
Berg also published a tweet Wednesday explaining that she does not share Michaels’s views.
What I was going to say here is that Lizzo has been incredibly important in giving so many of us a possibility model for accepting our bodies as we are and celebrating bodies that are normally ridiculed. Had to restrain myself from defending Lizzo's honor! https://t.co/UH2k5MulWo— Alex Berg (@itsalexberg) January 8, 2020
Michaels responded to her critics in a tweet Wednesday evening, stating that she thinks everyone is “beautiful, worthy, and equally deserving” but standing by her comments about weight.
“I also feel strongly that we love ourselves enough to acknowledge there are serious health consequences that come with obesity ― heart disease, diabetes cancer to name only a few,” she wrote.
The New York Times reported in 2016 that the weight loss methods deployed on “The Biggest Loser,” which included intensive dieting and exercise, were not sustainable and that many of the contestants who lost weight on the show regained most of it back.
Michaels, whose 12-season stint on the show helped her launch a fitness empire, has been widely criticized by fitness experts for the harsh weight-loss tactics she used on the show, which included hurling insults and threats as well as seeming to derive joy from watching contestants struggle with extreme exercise.
She was also penalized on the show in 2013 for giving contestants on her team caffeine pills to help them lose more weight without permission from the show’s doctor.
In comments that echo the ones she made about Lizzo’s body, Michaels also expressed to Women’s Health UK last April that she feels as if the world has become too “politically correct” about weight.
“I think we’re politically correct to the point of endangering people,” she said.
“But obesity in itself is not something that should be glamorized,” she added. “But we’ve become so politically correct that no one wants to say it.”