Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Celebrities with E.D.'s

A while back, a reporter asked me my position regarding celebrities disclosing that they have struggled with eating disorders.  She asked if I thought the disclosure was helpful or hurtful for the general public.  I went with "helpful," and here's why:  Obviously, I wish that no one had to suffer the physical and psychological damage of an eating disorder.  But, since people do develop them, and since we're still learning how to best treat them, pay for treating them, etc., I think any type of public awareness is beneficial.  For fans who struggle with eating disorders, learning of someone else's struggle may help with feelings of shame or isolation around the disorder.  Moreover, I think it's important for the public to understand that a number of the singers, actresses, and models they admire are not as naturally thin as they appear.  In many cases, they must go to drastic measures, in order to conform to our current body ideal (see Adriana Lima's recent revelation to the Telegraph for proof).  For some, these measures may lead to the development of full-blown eating disorders.  In my opinion, the more information we have that counteracts the idea that skinny (for all women) is healthy and effortless, the better.

What are your thoughts?


Chantell said...

Sometimes it can be a trigger...I remember reading about Tracey Gold when I was 15yr and bulimic, and wishing I was as think as her BUT my ED had already started, so I don't think it really made it any worse, per say...

It can be helpful to read about other celebrities, as long as they are 'recovered' or in recovery, and not advocating ED as a lifestyle choice...If they are pointing out the dangers of ED's, then that's even better! I am an adult mum of four who still struggles, so it can be nice to know there are others who understand what it's like :o)

Chantell said...

That's meant to say 'as thin as her' in the first sentence of my comment...Oops!

Incredible Eating Anorexics said...

i think it very much depends on how the celebrity talks about it. It depends on the language and tone used, sometimes down to the reporting more than what has actually been said. It needs to be approached with tact, consideration of triggering factors, and just general care.

Angie said...

I also think it's the way the celebrity portrays her/his thinness.

And dr.Stacey, thank you so much for writing this blog, it means a lot to us women with EDs!

Anonymous said...

I find celebrities disclosing can be a trigger - not so much to people who do not already have an ED but to those who already have one.

I think it is more the style of writing and 'glamorizing' found in magazines/media rather than the actual content. I read the celeb magazines -because- they always give weight/height/clothes size ratios..if they managed to do an article without stating that Star X has dropped to a Size Z from a Size A then perhaps it would be easier to focus on the emotional content than the triggering figures that lead to comparisons.

It doesn't help that if you flick a few pages forwards (or on the next page) of the magazines then there is always, always a breakdown of some celeb 'diet' with the total calorie consumption for the day beside it in bold lettering.

I know that each individual person with an ED is ultimately responsible for there own recovery but I do not think the way it is portrayed in the media helps. Even in TV shows like 'Supersize vs super skinny' when they have 'real eating disorder special' spots on the programme they still list the weights. I do not see why this benefits anyone. It is (hopefully) uninteresting to someone who does not suffer from an ED and triggering to those who do. The only pay off is the shock factor but what never, ever seems to be portrayed by the media, especially in the case of celebs 'disclosing' is the fact that you may be as unhappy at 11 stone as you are a 5 stone when you have an eating disorder.

Yes, there is the element of 'i admire that star, it is nice to know I am not alone and a freak and look, that person can juggle a career and an ED'...but i also think that it makes it hard for people who have Eating disorders and cannot function well enough to get a job..

Lastly, there is never any follow up, or a full story. No-one seems to say ah, Celeb X was diagnosed with an Eating Disorder and then went through xyz treatment, then relapsed, then fought back...it is all too focused on food and weight rather than the actual journey of an eating disorder.

I hope this input helps some.

Lexi said...

I think what people are forgetting is that for us who are still struggling with Eating Disorders, looking at a skinny star (with or without an ED), is a trigger. When that star comes out and admits they, too, struggle with food and the pressures of society, it validates our struggle and makes people realize you cannot naturally reach that way (without some amazing genes).

Because, at least for me, it means they are not naturally that skinny. They struggle, so I know that there is no healthy way to get to the weight they are.

Someone mentioned Tracey Gold - before it was public knowledge she was struggling, someone with an ED could look at her and say, 'see, I want to look like that' and think they could get there "naturally". It isn't her admission of an ED that is the trigger, but how she looks overall. Very skinny girls without an ED are also triggers to many, so why blame those that admit that they themselves struggle with an issue that affects so many of us?

Demi Lovato is a great example - she was never 'too skinny' so she isn't emulated as thinspiration. Instead, what I read from many people, is that she was able to seek recovery and is healthy and a good role model for us who still struggle. It also humanized her and made a lot of people that I've heard from actually believe that recovery could work for them because they see the positive changes in Demi's life.

Dianne Grover said...

I do agree that celebrities who are disclosing their eating disorders will somehow help those who are suffering from such condition. People in fame are seen by the public as role models and knowing that they also face problems of their own will give encouragement and make those with such illnesses realize that no one is perfect. Help such as family counseling will eventually increase self esteem which is what people with anorexia nervosa are losing. Thank you for sharing this post