Open Thread: Top 25 Most Controversial Fitness Figures

This Livestrong slideshow on the 25 most controversial fitness figures is really interesting, because even though it doesn’t mention fatphobia, it clearly highlights several points we’ve talked about, particularly  size acceptance, anti-fatness, and the gendering of weight-loss.

What I especially love about this series is that it also illustrates the questionable science behind many fitness trends, the connection between what “science” becomes commonly accepted and money, and that even basic things, like the food pyramid, aren’t accepted by everyone. I’m also seeing that fitness and fame is a white thing — there’s no mention of, say, the Black Panthers and their role in the Child Nutrition Act, or even black vegans, or even, most glaringly, OPRAH, who’s made her health journey very public.

Now, let’s flip this around. If you were making a list of your FAVORITE fitness/nutrition figures, who would be on it?

For me, it’d be.

1. Sunyatta Amen

2. Sistah Vegan

3. Oprah :blush!:

4. Cora Wen

5. This is a website, but… Stumptuous 

6. Rydra Wong

I guess I like these particular blogs/figures because I want to use working out to heal/soothe my psyche, not to ingest yet another kind of toxicity. Who do you recommend?







  1. Red says

    My faves would be FedUpFemale who works to debunk diet myths and fitness fantasy, including taking ‘The Biggest Loser’ to task!

    YAY! Watch the vid and give this lovely lady more hits and props!

    And the Angry Trainer. A well-educated trainer, he talks about fitness, what works, what doesn’t, answers questions and, like Fed Up Female, debunks certain myths about diet and fitness and has sections on supposed weight-loss products called ‘Infomercial Insanity’, where he personally tests and examines the claims made in weigh-loss product infomercials about everything from the StairMaster to Hydroxicut.

  2. Red says

    As an addition; I’m glad to see Jillian Micheals on that list. Her methods of weight loss are unacceptable and downright dangerous. One of these days, all it will take is for ONE PERSON to drop dead.

  3. Maria says


    Haha I just gave my Jillian Michaels weights to a girlfriend. The weights themselves are good, but her public persona is pretty fail.

    I really like what the woman behind THe Great Fitness Experiment said about Jillian,

    where she talked about how basically Jillian encourages socially approved disordered eating, while victim-blaming people with disordered eating.

    • Maria says

      I mean, if you do a search on the website, the poster’s disdain for Jillian Michaels comes up a fair amount… but the part spec on disordered eating is in the book, which I can’t find for some annoying reason.

  4. Alice says

    I really like The Fat Nutritionist, for focusing on intuitive eating and helping people repair their relationships with food and trusting their bodies.

  5. says


    We got a link to an article from the Fat Nutritionist recently, and it’s been blowing my mind ever since. It’s finally getting through to me that you can have a really unhealthy relationship with food and your body without meeting the diagnostic criteria for any particular eating disorder – and even if it’s not making your body sick, it isn’t doing your mind/body relationship any favors.

  6. sbg says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I read the most recent post on the blog Alice linked to and I think I sat slackjawed for a good few minutes. I am hardly hungry outside of OMGravenous, and am often overly full. I … always knew I had a terrible relationship with food (I’m not blaming, but when your mom says “are you sure you should be eating that?” it affects a pre and teen mind like whoa), but the way she frames everything she writes is amazingly clear.

    ETA: And it’s only now clicking why I secret-eat all the time. All. The. Time. I generally go for healthy things for my regular food (spinach, broccoli – yes, please, heaps of it!), but there’s a fair amount of mindless snacking I would probably deny three times like Peter if pushed about it. I think this might be the first time I’ve acknowledged it at all, and I think it all stems from this idea I learned early on that I have to hide the “bad” things I eat to avoid recrimination.

  7. Casey says

    Going out of your way to eat alone with nobody in the vicinity counts as “secret eating” right? ‘Cuz unless I’m with a friend or family member I feel awkward eating in public so I hide in indiscriminate places like empty classrooms on campus or even behind a dumpster. >_>

    Also, I have this weird problem where I guess if I eat too much or too fast, once I get up I start coughing and hacking up phlegm and sometimes even throw up (which I did all over the sidewalk by the library this morning). I’ve deemed this “unintentional bulimia”. Also, this doesn’t happen at home and it doesn’t happen if I’m eating out with my family.

  8. SJ says

    “This is a website, but… Stumptuous”

    You could put Stumptuous down as Krista Scott-Dixon. She also has a book on women in IT.

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