On Integrity: Doing the Right Thing.

I have been a Jillian Michaels fan for a long time now. I’ve never seen The Biggest Loser—I don’t watch TV. And the draw to such shows stymies me. Completely.

But, I’ve watched her weight loss DVDs, been engaged on her website, I even follow her on Facebook. She keeps it real, and I like that. She admits she does what she does because she didn’t used to. She used to be the fat kid with the bad skin and poor diet. She picked herself up by the bootstraps and changed her world.

Her books, DVDs, and website all carry her sense of…determination and compassion. You have health issues and can’t do this exercise, try it this way. Mastering Your Metabolism is a book everyone should read. It is part of the triumvirate: Mastering Your Metabolism, Omnivore’s Dilemma, and to a lesser degree Food Rules, both by Michael Pollan. These aren’t books written by nutritionists – they’re written by healthy people – who like to eat! They are carefully thought out, well researched texts that are easy to read. If you have not read these books, go to the library and read them now.

Michaels discusses how food impacts, not only weight, but pain, menopause, mood, sleep patterns. Her approach isn’t a fad – it’s holistic. Like Pollan’s books, her ideas linger and change how life is approached.

In following Michaels on Facebook, I have learned that she practices what she preaches. She eats whole foods, works hard, plays hard, lives vigorously. She is getting ready to adopt a baby. She reaches out to her fans and supporters offering encouragement and help in any way she can to keep them motivated in their own journeys. She rescues animals. She could be a hero.

Enter Bob Parsons.

Bob Parsons is everything Jillian Michaels isn’t. Well, I guess they’re both rich. Larson is the CEO of Godaddy.com. He uses scantily clad women to advertise his product. It’s like the Hooters of website-hosts. It’s smarmy. The feminist in me is repulsed by it. You could not pay me enough to eat at Hooters, nor could you do anything to convince me to use Godaddy as a host. It is exploitative. Sycophantic. And we, apparently, have not outgrown that as a species…

Needless to say, I was disturbed when Michaels started talking about a Super Bowl ad (don’t even get me going about football!) – and that she would be in the Godaddy commercial. It made me nauseas. But I have been so impressed with her otherwise, I chose to overlook this transgression, a girl’s gotta earn a dollar (or million), right?

Enter the elephant.

Bob Parsons shot an elephant in Zimbabwe and posted a video online of his kill. Smarmy doesn’t begin to describe him. He paid huge fees to an oppressive government to kill this elephant – then filmed the starving locals carving it up to eat. He defended his actions by saying it was a “problem” elephant. But what about the other four he has shot? What about respecting the dignity of the local inhabitants of Zimbabwe? What about the vile regime he is supporting by paying the fees?

What about Jillian Michaels?

When I saw the article on the BBC, I went to Michaels’ Facebook page – completely expecting her to denounce Parsons. I expected her to be outraged; to defend the animal world, the starving people of Zimbabwe. Righteousness. But there was nothing.

Fans asked if she would drop Godaddy as her host. Silence. They begged that she make a statement – that she do what her followers have come to expect of her…

But she didn’t. And still hasn’t. Jillian Michaels has chosen to ignore Bob Parsons’ faux pas–his egregious action. And in so doing, she has abandoned all that her followers have come to respect in her. She has forgotten the activism that led her to take home a hungry baby animal in the middle of the night – one she couldn’t even identify, except to know it was frightened, alone, and hungry. She has chosen the beast.

It made me sad. I’ve learned a lot from Jillian Michaels about health, about fortitude, about living simply and remaining active. She has been a powerful example of sticking to your guns (no pun intended). Well, not so much. Silence speaks volumes, Jillian. The almighty dollar is, apparently, more important than majestic animals killed for sport. And you will have no more of my dollars.

We have to live by our convictions. And knowing that the conviction I saw was simply PR is disheartening. So, please, read Mastering your Metabolism – get it from the library – don’t feed the heartless beasts.

Word count: 784


3 thoughts on “On Integrity: Doing the Right Thing.

  1. I feel odd. I usually always agree with you. This time I don’t. The Elephants Larson killed were destroying villages. They really were problem elephants! They were destroying the local crops. If those people didn’t have those crops they would starve. The villagers ate the elephants and used every part of the animal. We hunt dear here in the US we kill them skin them and eat them.
    Can you help me understand why I should be outraged that he has killed elephants and he is proud of it?
    When it comes to everything else you said I completely agree. He is a sexist and Michaels of all people should not sell out.

  2. You say “problem” elephant as though you’re skeptical that they even exist. You realize they are a legitimate concern, right? I saw it–where else?– on television, NatGeo channel if memory serves. It’s not the elephants fault that they are angry, of course. They are running out of space, food and water supply, tusks and patience. Attacks on humans and whole villages are on the rise (or so they were at the time of the production).

    They told a story about two boys being attacked while walking alone on the road to their village. Being nighttime, they didn’t realize that they were being stalked, not until the bull elephant had already crept up–yes, crept–on them and launched its assault. Only one boy survived to tell the tale.

    What to do?

    I certainly don’t think Bob Larson is engaged in the illegal ivory trade, so I’m inclined to believe it was indeed a problem animal and that he is a legal, licensed sportsman. I’d wager that being a Marine, he used an economy of rounds to make that kill too, likely one shot. Contend with that if you wish, but the intention to mitigate suffering is the very thing that separates us from the animals. Do you hold disdain for farmers, hunters and the Michael Vicks of the world, alike?

    “We have to live by our convictions.” Said the prisoners…

  3. Maybe, it’s okay to kill problem elephants, but why would you put the kill on TV and glorify it? It’s sad that the elephants are losing habitat, it’s sad that the locals are starving, it’s horrifying that the government opresses the people, and doesn’t conserve it’s wildlife. It’s really sad that pampered people who never miss a meal and want to watch this on TV, and apparently find it cool? I don’t really know enough about it to have a fair opinion, but why couldn’t he kill the problem elephant, quietly feed the villagers, feel good inside if he thinks he’s doing the right thing, and keep it to himself? Why the need to publicize? I don’t get it.

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