Jillian Michaels sued thrice, proves again that diet pills don’t work

Jillian Michaels, the in-your-face trainer from NBC’s extreme weight-loss competition “The Biggest Loser,” is facing not one, not two, but three lawsuits over the “Maximum Strength Calorie Control” diet supplement she endorses. Three separate women have filed lawsuits claiming that the pills are ineffective and potentially dangerous.

Despite the claims on the box, these pills will not make you look like this woman.

That the pills don’t work is no surprise—have diet pills ever worked?—but a lot of Michaels’ fans have been expressing disappointment that she would endorse such a product in the first place. Michaels has always claimed to be anti-pill, instead insisting that diet and exercise alone should be enough to make any body into, well, her body.

To those who have lost faith in their fitness hero, I can only say this: if you are surprised, you are not paying attention. Someone who endorses The Biggest Loser’s wildly unhealthy combination of undereating and overexercising (contestants would often intentionally dehydrate themselves to shed pounds) pretty obviously doesn’t have anyone’s best health interests in mind. But because the narrative spun around The Biggest Loser is one of hope and change and reinvention and finally being the person you always wanted to be and blah blah blah, it’s understandable how audiences, especially those with their own body concerns, eventually come to put trust in a figure like Michaels.

So what does it mean when a trusted fitness guru with a culturally ideal body tells you it’s OK to take a pill? Well, you’re probably going to take a pill. And that’s why I have absolutely no sympathy for Michaels in this situation. She’s being irresponsible and she knows it. She’s participating in a cultural exercise that puts a failure to achieve an “ideal” body squarely on the shoulders of an individual. She’s perpetuating an impossible ideal and she’s lying about how to reach it—she’s lying by insisting that it can even be reached by the average person.

Michaels has dedicated her life to building this body, but tells dieters that they can achieve similar results through a pill.

What her popularity masks is that fitness is her job. The reason she looks the way she does is that she dedicates her entire life to it. Her world is a gym and a carefully planned menu of appropriate foods designed to give her those arms and those legs and those abs. She doesn’t take those pills and she knows that taking those pills isn’t going to help you, yet she tells you to take them anyway because it’s going to put dollars in her pocket and in the pockets of countless executives in suits whose interests begin and end with how much money they made this quarter.

To the women who took these pills with the hope that they would be the end of a struggle: I feel for you. I hope that you will one day go to the gym because it makes you feel strong and not because it might make you thin. I hope that you find peace in the body that you have been given.

To Jillian Michaels: I hope that one day you realize the influence that you wield, and that you choose to use it for good rather than to sell yet another fruitless, harmful dream.


11 thoughts on “Jillian Michaels sued thrice, proves again that diet pills don’t work

  1. Thanks… this was eye opening. I didn’t love the concept of racing to be thin as a TV show. But I live with my mom and she watches it, so sometimes my daughter watches with her. This has made me rethink the situation. I’ll be forwarding this article to my mother.

  2. I want to forward this article to everyone. Fantastically written with a great perspective. I’m glad there are sensitive, yet strong words to stand up for what’s right.

  3. Hallelujah! I love the second to last paragraph –

    Thanks for bringing this craziness to attention – it doesn’t surprise me about JM though. I hope she as well as the rest of the world can one day find peace with their bodies and spirits.

  4. This is a fantastic article!! Very well put. I am going to forward it to all of my friends… especially those who go to the gym daily, diet, and then get depressed because it doesn’t result in that “perfect” body. Then they decide to take these endorsed supplements and pills, believing against their better knowledge that they will give them the results promised on the box. I think The Biggest Loser is a horrible show that puts people on display and takes away some of their dignity, while sending an unhealthy message to those who watch.

    I also love the second to last paragraph, it really drives home your point and sends encouragement to the heart. Way to go, Melissa.

  5. Jillian never claims in her ad that the pills are ‘magic pills’
    What Jillian says is “Take two pills along with eating a Healthy Diet and Regular Exercise. And with HARD WORK you can have this body too.” So get your facts straight before spewing more lies about Jillian.

    For anyone that thinks there is a magic pill you can take and not have to follow a sensible healthy diet and exercise daily, You are simply a moron.

    Jillian has worked hard from a very fat girl to get that body. So it wasnt like she was already some skinny toned person to start with.

    Jillian doens’t just advocate exercise and healthy eating. She is a strong advocate for Green Peace. Fights for Hungry Americans. She is a Good person and it is a shame you all are painting her some kind of evil person. Do you do what she does everyday to help people you don’t even know? Do you do what she does everyday to try and better the human race? Probably not, more than likely you sit around on your fat rear ends pointing your chubby finger at those that can do, and do make a difference.

    Last note. Those people on The Biggest Loser are all there because they want to be. Nobody Made them apply, nobody forced them on the show. Actually Jillian and Bob have both been so concerned about the contestants that they have fought with the producers. I am sure for Jillian and Bob it is the choice between evils. Refuse to do as the producers say and just be replaced by other fitness guru’s that WILL do as the producer say and not care as much as they do about the people on the show. Or Stay and know at the very least those on the show are in the hands of two that really do care and off the screen, behind the scenes do what they can to help.
    Broaden your very narrow minds people.

  6. Great article. During the first season of TBL, I LOVED Jillian. I have a fitness background and I could related to her tough, “no excuses” attitude. However, after that, I felt that the show took a turn for the worse and stopped watching when she scolded a contestant after a weigh in for only losing 5 pounds. It made me sick. I agree with everything you said. In a way I feel that JM sold her soul for the almighty dollar.
    It saddens me that people watch this show, thinking the way to lose weight and have a “perfect life” is to drastically cut calories and exercise to the point of exhaustion and/or injury.
    @ Brenda- By the way, not all people that disagree with JM’s teachings are fat. And to insinuate that is a bit immature. Just my opinion.

  7. Brenda, the packaging would give one the idea that the pills alone would make you lose weight.

    quotes from the box:
    “Two capsules before main meals and you lose weight… that’s it!”

    “America’s toughest trainer makes losing weight simple”

  8. I never suspected any of these pitch people to be ethical in the first place. I’ve gotten a few items such as the belly burner and a few weight loss drinks and they don’t seem to do a whole lot. But who knows?

  9. “Thanks for bringing this craziness to attention – it doesn’t surprise me about JM though. I hope she as well as the rest of the world can one day find peace with their bodies and spirits.”

    fat Chick talk.

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