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Eating Disorders in Popular Culture

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    The social problems of eating disorders is embedded in different types of popular culture often. Eating disorders are displayed through movies, television shows, and other types of media which shapes our idea on them. The movie, When Friendship Kills shows an example of how eating disorders affect an individual and how harmful they can be. In the movie, Lexi, a teenager, moves with her mother and sister to Chicago after her parents experience a tough divorce. When she gets to her new school, she becomes friends with the popular girl, Jennifer, at volleyball tryouts. Jennifer tells Lexi that she should lose a few pounds so that she is better at volleyball and tells her that she herself is bulimic. This makes Lexi decide to diet and work out with her. Lexi’s mother starts to realize that she is eating less and appears skinnier but she is still figuring out her divorce and this isn’t her main concern. Her mother then figures out that Lexi hasn’t gotten her period for over three months so she takes her to the doctor and is told she’s at a normal weight.

    Lexi figured out a way to make herself weigh heavier at the doctor and hide the eating disorder. Jennifer and Lexi decide they want to model and the famous photographer is only interested in Jennifer because of her body. Lexi starts to engage in worse eating habits and she is eventually hospitalized after she collapses during a volleyball game. At the hospital, she is diagnosed with anorexia and now has to enter a recovery program. Lexi is able to recover and comes clear to her mother about her eating disorder and mentions that Jennifer is struggling too. Lexi’s mother mentions this to Jennifer’s mother but she doesn’t believe it and Jennifer starts ignoring Lexi. At a party, Lexi tries to talk to her but Jennifer wants no part of her and leaves the party which leads to her getting hit by a car and dying. Lexi is so upset about the death of Jennifer and feels that she is the one to blame for it so she turns to the eating disorder again. Her father wants her to be back in the hospital but her mother doesn’t agree and believes she can help her. As the movie comes to an end, Lexi is able to recover on her own and sees Jennifer’s spirit watching over her as she wins her volleyball match.

    When Friendship Kills shows how eating disorders are depicted in our society. The movie uses the social problem of eating disorders as a form of tragedy. It shows how pressure from others to look a certain way can affect an individual physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. In our society, we commonly believe that being thin is the ideal body image. This was the case for Lexi, she was constantly being told by her friend Jennifer that she had to lose weight so that she could be better in volleyball. This idea was then repeated when the photographer chose Lexi over Jennifer to model. Through the functionalist perspective on media, we are able to see that media creates a set of shared norms and beliefs. When it comes to modeling, the media produces a certain image that is ideal for this type of job. The type of person is usually someone who is thin which is why the photographer doesn’t pick Lexi. It shows how the idea that being thin is ideal was tragic to Lexi and led to her unhealthy habits. The problem of eating disorders is front and center in the movie. The movie revolves around how certain experiences led to Lexi developing anorexia.

    The movie has a very strong message about the social problem of eating disorders. I believe that the audience is expected to think that eating disorders are a bad thing and that it is hard to recover. Each time Lexi recovers, some experience makes her eating disorder comes back. The audience learns that it takes time to recover and that there are different ways of going about them. There are many different solutions and viewpoints present throughout the movie by each character. Lexi’s father believes that hospitalization is the solution to the problem while her mother doesn’t think that it’s necessary and thinks she can help her. The solution to her problem ends up being that she is able to help herself and recover with encouragement from her mother. The movie also shows how the recovery program is able to help her when she is hospitalized for the first time.

    Eating disorders are accurately depicted throughout the movie as Lexi shows what can lead, occur, and result in anorexia. The movie shows how being thin is known as the ideal body type in our society which puts pressure on people to look like this. It shows how Lexi was always being told that being thin was desirable which led to her eating disorder. This relates to the medicalization of society, society is constantly narrowing the boundaries of what is “normal.” We now see being thin as something that is normal, so when someone isn’t we believe that they should lose weight to be “normal.” The movie also shows an accurate representation of what recovery is like for individuals with eating disorders. It shows how eating disorders don’t go away right away and that it can take a long time. Lexi shows how even when her eating disorder might’ve gone away, it came right back.

    I agree with how the movie showed that although there were so many different solutions, Lexi was able to figure out her own way through it. It showed that there are different solutions that work for different types of people which others commonly don’t understand. The movie also showed how hard it is for people struggling with eating disorders to get help. It wasn’t until Lexi ended up in the hospital that she finally got the help she needed and told her mother what was going on. She kept trying to hide the fact that she was struggling and wasn’t reaching out for help. I believe that When Friendship Kills depicts what eating disorders are like by showing a common example of Lexi.

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    Eating Disorders in Popular Culture. (2021, Aug 25). Retrieved from

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