A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this reality series highlights the hard work that goes into getting fit, the focus is on losing weight and looking good rather than positive, healthy, long-term lifestyle changes. Some of the women clearly struggle with body-image issues and poor self-esteem. There's also some language (mostly mild) and fitness-related product placement.
What's the story?
In the reality series I WANT TO LOOK LIKE A HIGH SCHOOL CHEERLEADER AGAIN, 10 women between the ages of 27 and 41 go through fitness boot camp in an attempt to look as great as they did while cheering for their high school teams. Under the supervision of Dallas Cowboys cheerleader fitness trainer Jay Johnson and his wife/business partner Lin, the women spend 10 weeks trying to turn back the clock. They endure grueling military-style workouts, team challenges, and open-air weigh-ins conducted by ESPN host/bikini model Jenn Brown. At the end of each week, the contestant who's lost the lowest percentage of body fat must leave the camp; whoever loses the most weight at the end of boot camp wins $50,000, the chance to perform in front of a live audience, and the satisfaction of knowing she can fit into her old cheerleading uniform.
Is it any good?
The trainers claim that they're educating and motivating these women to create a healthier lifestyle, but there isn't a lot of discussion about healthy eating or differences in body types. Even though many of the contestants are mothers and/or have been out of high school for decades, the impact of age and childbirth on the ability to lose weight is never addressed. Sadly, body image and self-esteem issues aren't dealt with either, despite the fact that some of the women express feelings of embarrassment and shame about their bodies as they compare themselves to what they looked like as teens.
The show does emphasize the hard work it takes to get into physical shape, but its failure to recognize some of the major issues associated with weight loss overshadows any of the positive messages it contains about health and exercise. While some viewers may find it entertaining to see who wins in the end, ultimately it's not very informative or inspirational.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between body image and the media. Why is thin so in -- and how do the sculpted celebrity images we see in the media affect our perceptions of our own bodies? Families can also discuss physical fitness. Is losing weight the most important reason to exercise? What if you exercise and don't lose weight? Is it realistic to expect adults to strive to look the way they did when they were teenagers? What messages does that send about body image and self worth?