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"Confronting viewing" indeed

Posted Sep 17 2010 7:30am 1 Comment
Why is it that I see this scene in my head so often when I see eating disorder literature and news coverage?

I'm not "confronted" by Amy’s Story at all. What she is doing and saying is completely understandable and harrowing - and not her fault. What is "confronting," and where the slap above needs to land, is on those who are failing this young woman. This beloved daughter has a horrible mental illness that requires treatment, and not the treatment she's getting. Her parents have been given wrong information. Her therapist is sadly mistaken. The journalist is, it seems, willing road kill in this narrative of "control" and tragedy.

That news story is everything that needs to be re-examined and sharply rebuked about eating disorders: that patients are choosing their symptoms and should be followed along helplessly as they do so, that these symptoms have some sort of deeper meaning that we as a society need to change, that anorexia is a fear of being a "fat cow," and that anorexia is only notable of public attention when it has depleted a human being of all visible flesh.

What should have, and could have, been an expose of a failed treatment model is instead a piece that will further confuse and frighten families seeking help. I call on all those reading this to contact that channel to calmly and firmly protest this piece and ask for a retraction and follow up. I am.
Comments (1)
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I just watched the clip and intend to write to the channel about retracting the piece. Your post is really valid - I didn't find this expose to offer little but a kind of hopeless, shock-value type look at Amy's life. I feel they could have spent much more time exploring the treatment she was recieving and why it wasn't enough. The truth of the matter is, that as someone suffering from anorexia and going through recovery myself I was annoyed that they didn't go at all into the nessecity of refeeding and nourishing the body back to a stable weight range. Of course Amy is going to continue to suffer hugely when she it appeared (at least according to the clip) she is in full control of her own meal planning and diet. There are reasons why dieticians are a crucial part of an ED treatment team - we usually cannot be trusted to know or follow through with what is necessary for our bodies. The piece was admittedly so heartbreaking and Amy's story very striking - but it didn't offer any outlook, advice or information for viewers to take away. If it were my first time comming into contact with the illness this would have left me very scared and dispirited. We need the media to talk about what does work for treatment, not just show stories of despair and loss.
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