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21st May 2024

‘Operation Transformation should’ve been axed a long time ago’

Kat O'Connor

Operation Transformation is no more and I couldn’t be more relieved

Operation Transformation has been taken off the air and it feels like a step in the right direction.

The show may have been popular, but it also acted as a major trigger for those with body image issues.

It felt dated and shameful and spread a negative message to far too many vulnerable people.

Operation Transformation was a show that intertwined obesity and weight gain with guilt. It made people of a certain size feel like they were worth less than others and the only way to change that was to shed weight.

They were cheered when the scales revealed they lost a few pounds. They shed tears if they gained weight or remained at the same size. Contestants were paraded like show ponies as they stood on weighing scales in front of the panel.

People defended the show and claimed it was empowering, but I felt nothing but shame when watching it.

Operation Transformation was an outdated show that belonged in an episode Black Mirror and not on the national broadcaster.

It may have helped people embrace healthy lifestyles, but there was always an air of shame surrounding Operation Transformation.

It felt like they were taking advantage of vulnerable and self-conscious people and nothing is empowering about that.

A show like this has no place in modern society

RTÉ confirmed the show had been axed this month, one of few wise moves the broadcaster has made.

“The decision on Operation Transformation was communicated some weeks ago to those involved including the experts and stakeholders.

“The series, which kicked off in 2008, initially saw presenter Gerry Ryan select hopefuls on his RTÉ 2FM radio show, following them as they attempted to reshape and reboot their lives, guided by experts in the fields of nutrition, weight loss, and psychology.”

The broadcaster now has the opportunity to air an empowering show in its place, which is exactly what society needs.

RTÉ could have helped spread a positive and inclusive message instead of focusing on the number on the scales.

It may have taken 17 seasons for the broadcaster to make the right move, but campaigners are relieved to see the end of Operation Transformation.

“It has dehumanised people living with overweight and obesity”

End Diet Culture Ireland has been campaigning tirelessly to decommission the show.

In an open letter, signed by over 10,000 people, health professionals said the show was dehumanising.

“We believe that Operation Transformation has contributed to weight stigma in Ireland by promoting negative attitudes towards people living with overweight and obesity.

“Body weight is largely outside individual control and is certainly not attributed to greediness, laziness, and lack of willpower.

“Although we recognise that steps have been taken to reduce overtly shaming leaders in recent years, it has a long history of scolding and belittling its leaders

“It has dehumanised people living with overweight and obesity and we believe it has contributed to the foundations of weight stigma in Ireland.”

Ellen Jennings, Communications Officer at Bodywhys also welcomed the news.

“Bodywhys has expressed concern in relation to Operation Transformation for some time. Feedback from our service users has consistently highlighted the negative impact that the show, and conversations around the show, have had on their relationship with food and body image.”

Operation Transformation may have become more progressive in recent years, but weight loss shows don’t belong in our society.

Having 17 seasons of such a toxic programme has undoubtedly done a lot of damage, but it’s something that can be undone now that the show is off-air. People can lose weight if they want to, they can eat healthier and exercise more but it isn’t something that should be ridiculed and glamourised on national TV.

Allowing someone to weigh themselves and then seeing them reduced to tears on national television is something this country never needed.

And I’m relieved we won’t have to see it again.