The earliest movies released that discussed eating disorders were mostly explanatory and for a good reason: people were just being introduced to these conditions. The decade that saw a sharp increase in the number of cases of anorexia was the 1970s, primarily due to the popularity of several studies that have been published during this period.

This, in turn, gave attention to eating disorders and made the public more aware of them. Since then, several attempts to fully understand eating disorders and come up with treatments for anorexia nervosa, bulimia, as well as a binge eating disorder recovery plan have become increasingly more noticeable. However, there have been many claims that none of these TV shows and movies truly explore what eating disorders are.

A negative portrayal?

Here’s the common image of someone with anorexia nervosa: a young and thin girl who starves herself and refuses to eat in order to lose weight and achieve the “perfect” image. This is how the media often portrays patients with eating disorders. However, this unrealistic stereotype is nothing but a product of pop culture, which contributes to myths and misconceptions about these diseases.

Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are two of the most common eating disorders among the general population. Oftentimes, these two terms have been used interchangeably even though they’re two entirely different conditions. Eating disorders go way beyond the extreme obsession with food and weight loss. These are classified as psychological conditions characterized by underlying triggers related to self-harm, depression, trauma, substance abuse, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

A number of mental health professionals have asserted that these false depictions of eating disorders by the media romanticize and “glamorize” the conditions, as these perpetrates the idea that a thinner body means beauty. But there’s nothing glamorous about eating disorders. They’re extremely dangerous and can be fatal when not addressed properly. They don’t discriminate against gender, age, ethnicity, and body type. Men and women both may be affected by these conditions.

A trigger for eating disorders?

Many health professionals argue that controversial films that discuss eating disorders can be a trigger for people to experiment with both binging and purging. The provocative images often shown in films or even social media posts can serve as triggers for people who are currently accepting treatments and are battling their condition or even those who are already on their way to recovery.

These portray a devastating reality that may result in death due to lack of proper recognition and treatment. This can be a big problem, especially toward younger, impressionable viewers who are often the target audience of these movies and TV series.

It’s highly important to educate ourselves regarding these conditions that affect many people worldwide. While the media continues to bring the spotlight to these conditions that are often not taken seriously, they are also responsible for creating images that can encourage patients to overcome the condition. Even friends and family members have a role to play in helping the patients find their way to recovery and live a healthier life.