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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

TV: Pulling the trigger on eating disorders

Not all documentaries are good.
Not all reality shows are good.

I'm not speaking about how well the shows themselves are made, but rather the psychological affects that they have on their viewers. 

Some documentaries try to shed a light on the issues that are affecting us as a society. They try to enlighten us with facts, figures and touching anecdotal stories.
Some reality shows try to teach us something whilst primarily aiming to keep us all entertained.


But as previously stated, not all of these shows are good.

Shows such as 'Man VS Food' and 'Supersize vs superskinny' have been attributed to triggering* people's eating disorders. The amount of things that Adam Richman eats during the course of a single episode is enough to put anyone off food, let alone someone who is already struggling with issues such as bulimia. And as for 'Supersize vs superskinny'... many watch the show and are influenced to lose weight to resemble the physical figure of the 'superskinny' in question, and their relationship with food is even further impaired whenever they see the 'supersizer', scared that, one day, their body will resemble theirs.

Really, it's just horrific to watch, not the show themselves, but the reactions that they can cause. The thought of someone skipping meals or binging and purging because they watched an episode of a show about unhealthy relationships with food makes me monumentally sad. Television was meant to entertain, it was meant to educate, but it was never meant to cause these type of behaviours.

If you are triggered by these shows, or think you may be, then please, don't watch them. And if you're in the presence of someone who you know has suffered in the past with issues such as bulimia or anorexia, don't force these shows on them either.

*NOTE: Triggering is when someone dealing with issues such as eating disorders or self harm is influenced to take part in behaviors that is expected of eating disorder patients or self-harmers (i.e. purging, cutting etc) due to a certain image, situation or interaction. For example, images of incredibly thin people (known as 'thinspo') could be deemed as triggering for those suffering from eating disorders due to their desire to look similarly thin to the person in the photograph

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