Will New Reality TV Show Exploit Women With Eating Disorders?


AnorexiaWe've seen drug addicts, teen moms, chronic hoarders, and a host of people with other serious issues sacrificed to the reality TV gods -- their deeply personal troubles and struggles paraded before us for our casual entertainment. Now, apparently, it's people with eating disorders' turn.

Yep, Lifetime TV has announced plans to premiere a new reality show following people with eating disorders, Starving Secrets, on December 2. The show's host, Tracey Gold, who as a teen starring on the sitcom Growing Pains went through her own struggle with anorexia nervosa, swears the show will be tasteful and not exploitative, but honestly, I have a hard time believing that will be the case.

It's not that I wouldn't like to think that a project like this could have a positive effect, showing young women the dangers of a devastating and sometimes deadly disease, perhaps prompting them to get help. Clearly Gold -- who was one of the earliest stars to admit to having an eating disorder -- would like to believe this too.

But it's difficult to imagine how the women who (for whatever mysterious reason) have agreed to have a camera track their efforts, setbacks, and stumbles will be helped by their participation. In fact, one wonders whether their willingness to participate is more a symptom than a cure: Could the craving for acceptance and self-esteem issues that may have driven them to starve themselves also have driven them to sign on to have their private issues so publicly displayed? Honestly, it doesn't seem like that big a leap.

I recall hearing that anorexia and bulimia are more about control than anything else. But by signing away the rights to their privacy, Starving Secrets' participants are very much ceding control over their own images. That seems almost tragically ironic.

Do you think Starving Secrets sounds like it might exploit people with eating disorders or like it will help them?


Image via Katie Tegtmeyer/Flickr

body image, eating disorders, eating habits, eating healthy, emotional health, mental health, nutrition, self esteem


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daerc... daerca574

I am hooked on reality tv.  Hoarders, Intervention, and all those.  Not sure I would watch one about eating disorders, but i am sure someone will.

mjima... mjimaging

I don't think I would watch it. If it gets these women the help they need then I don't have a problem with it but I don't know that it needs to be a reality tv series. Maybe the producer should have just found women to help rather then airing it on tv.

Krist... KristinRox

I think its something that might help them. Something that might prompt them to get help, whereas they might not have had the opportunity prior. 

KaroG... KaroGreenly

I don't think that it will exploit them any more than any other reality show exploits it's "stars".

allie... alliesmom112

I doubt I will watch it.

JHanc968 JHanc968

I won't watch

Jeric... Jerichos_Mommy

It depends on who is watching


a) someone with an eating disorder could be encouraged to keep on that path or it could be the wake up call they need to save their own life.

b) someone recovering could be thrown back in or could be reminded why they never want to go back to that

c)a family member or friend could recognize warning signs and help before it is too late

aneela aneela

dont plan on watching

suziejax suziejax

I don't know how I feel about a show like this?

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