Dear Jody & Cindy,

Why are eating disorders so rampant in the entertainment industry? Does this only affect girls?

Concerned Mom

There are several reasons eating disorders are prevalent in the entertainment industry and while more common for girls, boys can also suffer from this disorder:

  • Competition: The pressure to be “skinny enough,” “pretty enough” and “perfect.”
  • Exposure: Movies, TV, magazines, models and other actors are seen as having the ideal bodies. The message is do whatever it takes to get the part.
  • Distorted Body Image: Kids often have a distorted perception of how their bodies look and the belief that something is wrong with them.

Unfortunately, this perception is often validated by expectations of the business team and studios

  • Identity: Actors often define themselves by what they do, who they know and what parts they get or don’t get.  Both girls and boys can be equally impacted by the stress, disappointment and rejection they encounter. This can lead to feelings of fear, shame and worthlessness.

As parents we want to be watchful for signs of compulsive overeating, bulimia and anorexia. Examples of this could be:

1)     Consistently going to the bathroom immediately after eating (purging/bulimia)

2)     Intense dieting; restricting food; use of diuretics (anorexia)

3)     Binges with or without purging (compulsive eating)

4)     Significant weight loss or gain (anorexia, compulsive overeating)

5)     Excessive exercise 2 or more times a day or over 2 hrs a day (exercise addiction)

6)     Bathroom pipes clogging up on a regular basis (purging)

7)     Obsession with the scale and their weight (anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive overeating)

8)     Obsession with the mirror and their body (anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating)

9)     Hides and hoards food (Bulimia and overeating)

10)  Superficial cutting, shoplifting and lying may also be a part of an eating disorder

If you are worried or begin to suspect your child may have a problem it is time to seek professional help.

Contributors: Jody Frank & Cindy Busto are Licensed Clinical Social Workers and the directors of WCCCLA.