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A petition to cancel Netflix’s new dark comedy ‘Insatiable’ has gained more than 233,000 signatures since Twitter commentators first saw the trailer for the series back in July. Many Netflix viewers and online readers immediately felt uneasy when they were first introduced to the show because of the sensitive subject matter it dealt with. But instead of approaching the very real topic of “fat-shaming” and dramatic weight loss with knowledge and compassion, it seemed as though the series was following the same old tired troupe that says if young girls get thin and adhere to societal beauty standards, they can live fuller lives and exact revenge on those who treated them poorly in the past. In fact, many people who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder felt triggered by the trailer for the TV show alone.
Eating Disorders and The Media
It is no secret that America is media obsessed. While there is no single cause of body dissatisfaction or the development of eating disorders like bulimia nervosa, research does show that the media does help to expose and pressure people into achieving an ideal body type. On average, 80 percent of Americans watch television each day. And on a typical day, kids aged 8 to 18 are engaged with some form of media for up to 7.5 hours. Most of this time is spent watching television, although children also play video games and spend time on the computer as well.
It would be accurate to think that Patty, the main character in ‘Insatiable,’ has binge eating disorder where she eats large amounts of food uncontrollably, whether she is hungry or not. She deals with feelings of self-loathing and disgust after a binge episode but does not participate in any purging behaviors such as self-induced vomiting or excessive laxative use that is common for those with bulimia nervosa. Some of the most dangerous ideas stemming from the Netflix television show include equating the fact that the Patty was once “fat” with her being out of control and sick. The show touches on triggers that many people who have binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa actually deal with in real life. However, the writers chose to have the actors make light of these situations, using them for what many critics and audience members have seen as cruel, off-based jokes.
There have been numerous studies conducted surrounding the effects of the media and body ideals in America. These studies indicate that for elementary girls who read magazines, 69 percent admit that the pictures on the pages influence their concept of an ideal body shape and 47 percent say the pictures make them feel the need to lose weight. With common lines from the Netflix show using the phrase “skinny magic,” it is easy to see why concerned viewers and eating disorder survivors have an issue with the series.
Media Self-Care Tips
- When consuming media, it is important to remember that viewers should choose their favorite television programs, films, and magazines mindfully.
- Limiting screen time each day and taking a step back from social media are both easy ways to spend more time in the real world and limit the amount of exposure one has with photo-shopped images and unrealistic body standards.
- Avoid engaging in the conversation if it doesn’t promote body positivity. Before sharing an image or posting a comment on a video, take a step back and ask about the reason for engagement and who else may be reached by the images.
- Remember that all media images and messages are constructed by a group of people who are ultimately selling a product. They are not reflections of reality and only designed to compel viewers to make a purchase of some kind.
Early Intervention and Treatment with Monte Nido
Interaction with the media can be triggering for people of all ages. But effective, safe and compassionate treatment for eating disorders like bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder is available from Monte Nido and our affiliates. With the help of early intervention and a strong support system in place, successful recovery is possible. If you or a loved one has been triggered by television shows like Insatiable or other media, we can help.