Jillian Michaels, the feisty fitness trainer for TV’s Biggest Loser, stirs up controversy in this month’s issue of Women’s Health. In her interview, Michaels discusses her desire to have kids. But she wants to adopt rather than give birth to her own children. Part of her decision stems from her fear of being overweight, as she admits she faced obesity as a child. She says,
“I’m going to adopt. I can’t handle doing that to my body. Also, when you rescue something, it’s like rescuing a part of yourself.”
I think we should applaud people for opening their hearts and adopting children. Yet her statement upset some people, including those in the health community. Dr. Leslie Seppinni, a psychologist and family therapist, focuses on the issue of body image. She told Fox News,
“She [Jillian Michaels] is teaching people about body image and self-esteem…Women have children all the time and get right back in shape, particularly if they exercise. If this is how she truly feels, she should seek counsel before coaching others on issues of body image.”
Yes, Michaels teaches women and men how to be happy with their bodies while getting them strong and in shape. She tells Women’s Health, “I want to empower people to find happiness via a healthy lifestyle.” And yes, women get back into shape after giving birth. But Seppinni misses the point. It is Jillian Michaels’ choice, not Dr. Seppinni’s or anyone else’s, to decide what she wishes to do with her own body. Whatever happened to it being a woman’s body and therefore a woman’s choice? And I can’t help but wonder…what if Michaels didn’t want children at all? Would her choice be respected? Or, as many women without children face, would she instead be criticized for being selfish?
Psychologist Dr. Haleh Stahl came to Michaels’ defense saying,
“She is in a profession where she’s looked up to for her body and she’s an inspiration to others for losing weight and getting in shape and staying in shape, so the fact that she wants to preserve that for herself has a lot also to do with the image that she is representing as a way of promoting what she does…I think it’s different for a person who doesn’t rely on the shape of their body for their livelihood, this is what she’s known for, and she’s in the business of inspiring others to get in shape.”
Michaels isn’t running around warning her clients not to procreate so as not to destroy their physiques. She shared her own perspective for her own life. We need to stop demonizing women’s personal choices and start embracing them.