Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pacific islanders on "The Biggest Loser"

For reality tv fans, it has been refreshing to see Tongan cousins Filipe and Sione competing together on The Biggest Loser: Couples. Reality tv rarely casts minorities except as tokens, and even more rarely do we get to see Pacific Islanders in any capacity.

In their introductory video montage, the cousins explain that in Tonga, "It's accepted to be overweight, and actually, the bigger the better...If you're skinny, you're kind of frowned upon." There's even some cute video footage from back home of their family members. Sione explains that his father is recovering from a stroke, and that was part of what motivated the two of them to come on the show. Their goal is to change the mentality of Polynesian people to the idea that "it's not ok to be big." I don't know how often race is addressed on the show since this is my first season tuning in, but it seems cool that they are addressing the racial aspects of size and body images. Certainly body images means different things in different cultures.

The brothers are among the most lovable on the whole show (admittedly, I love nearly everyone on the show -- it is just so admirable to see them all fighting so hard to achieve their goals), and they are hanging in so far. Filipe also has the best celebratory dance during the weigh-ins, it can't help but leave your cheering for them. So two big cheers for the Tongans, and here's to more healthy discussions of body image!

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