Glorification of eating disorders — and the bodies that result from them — in the media is nothing new. But what’s surprising (to me, at least) is the extent to which disordered attitudes toward food and eating in young women are increasingly portrayed as “normal”. Fighting with or hating your body, agonizing over every calorie: these seem to be morphing into standard gender stereotypes, rather than signs of illness. Don’t all young women do this? Isn’t it “perfectly normal”?
As an example, the good people at Yoplait apparently felt that these attitudes were innocuous enough to be a good way of selling yogurt. They recently debuted this commercial, which has since been pulled after numerous complaints (WARNING: the material in this commercial may be triggering for those with eating disorders — watch with caution; ANOTHER WARNING: many of the comments on this video are offensive, and may be hurtful — read with caution)
The Huffington Post has more on the controversy surrounding this commercial here.
One thought on “Normalizing disordered eating”
Worrying. Very, very worrying. Also: gross.
More positively, the Nola O’Grady series of urban fantasy books by Katharine Kerr does a really good job of addressing this aspect of body image. The narrator, Nola, counts calories to a dangerous degree, but rather than let this behaviour pass as unremarkable and healthy (as she initially thinks of it), her lover and family are constantly encouraging her to eat more, pointing out that she does, in fact, have an eating disorder. They do this in such a loving, supportive way that over the course of the narrative, Nola starts to realise that they’re right, with the result that her eating habits visible change. It makes for a really refreshing read!
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