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Pop Culture and Eating Disorders: It’s Often Inaccurate

Pursuing Thinspiration is DangerousPop culture has a singular view of eating disorders: They almost glamorous it as a way to show off thin models and actors. A recent article by Chloe Angyal in the Daily Life (“What pop culture gets wrong about eating disorders”) exposes these media messages for what they truly are – a completely inaccurate view of eating disorders, especially bulimia.

Movies and TV often reference women who purge their lunch or dinner, but never show the after-effects. People with bulimia are often not the thinnest. In fact, most of them are average weight. The media also gets wrong the fact that these people usually have swollen cheeks and teeth that have been eaten away by acid.

Angyal points out that by not reflecting what bulimia really looks like means that people won’t be able to spot the signs in real life, especially the way people suffering from bulimia try to hide it.

She sums up her article with the following closing paragraphs:

Accurate and empowering pop culture narratives alone certainly aren’t a panacea. They won’t heal people who have eating disorders, and they won’t stop people from developing them. But popular culture can start conversations about topics that are otherwise hard to discuss, and eating disorders definitely fall into that category.

And for people who have suffered from eating disorders, it can be enormously powerful to see on-screen stories that mirror what we’ve been through – in a way that doesn’t glamourise, or sanitise, or minimise our suffering. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie taught us (and Beyoncé), there is danger in a single story, and there’s even more risk in telling untrue ones.

Read the full article here.

Rachel Levi, LMFT, CEDS, F- IAEDPFounder/Clinical Director
Shoreline Center for Eating Disorder Treatment

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