How Can Parents Identify If a Film, Series, or Book Is Appropriate for Their Teen Struggling with Anorexia?

Kate Chered
4 min readDec 2, 2023

What Makes Certain Films, Series, and Books Appropriate and Beneficial for Adolescents with Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa, a pervasive issue predominantly in industrial nations, often affects teenagers, particularly those from more affluent families. Given that teenagers are highly impressionable and emotionally intense due to hormonal changes, it’s crucial for parents to be discerning about the media their children consume. This is particularly true when choosing books, films, or TV series about anorexia.

For effective therapeutic impact, these media should feature teenage protagonists, allowing viewers to identify with them. Importantly, anorexia should be depicted negatively, not as a path to success. Stories where the protagonist combats and ideally overcomes their disorder can have a profound effect on an adolescent’s mindset.

How Can Artistic Depictions of Anorexia Influence Teenage Perceptions and Behaviors?

The influence of media on teenagers is substantial. They often internalize and emulate the behaviors and attitudes of characters they relate to or idolize. Hence, when a story is based on real-life struggles with anorexia, it can trigger a significant shift in a teenager’s perspective. The realization that real people have faced and fought this disorder can be both enlightening and inspiring.

However, care must be taken to avoid narratives where characters are ambivalent about combating anorexia or resign to it, as this could inadvertently reinforce negative behaviors in impressionable adolescents.

Which Specific Films, TV Series, and Books are Recommended for Addressing Anorexia in Adolescents?

  • Films:
  • “When Friendship Kills” (1996, Canada, USA)
  • “The Best Little Girl in the World” (1981, USA)
  • “Sharing the Secret” (2000, USA)
  • TV Series:
  • “Red Band Society” (2014–2015, USA)
  • “Lifestories: Families in Crisis” (USA, 1992–1996)
  • “Skins” (UK, 2007–2013)
  • Books:
  • “Justine. This Morning I Decided to Stop Eating”
  • “Kim Caspari. XXS”
  • “Jacqueline Wilson. Girls in Fashion Chase”

Each of these works provides a unique perspective on anorexia, offering both cautionary tales and narratives of hope and recovery. They are carefully selected to resonate with teenagers, guiding them towards a healthier self-image and understanding of the disorder.

Why is it Essential to Choose the Right Media for Adolescents Dealing with Anorexia?

Choosing the right media is crucial because adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the influence of characters and stories they find relatable. The right book or film can serve as a powerful therapeutic tool, helping teenagers understand the seriousness of anorexia and the importance of seeking help. Conversely, the wrong media can glorify the disorder or instill a sense of hopelessness, exacerbating the problem.

In conclusion, integrating appropriate films, TV series, and books into the therapeutic process can be a valuable strategy in helping adolescents understand and combat anorexia. These media should be selected with care to ensure they offer a realistic, hopeful, and constructive perspective on the disorder.

FAQs

How Can Parents Identify If a Film, Series, or Book Is Appropriate for Their Teen Struggling with Anorexia?

Parents should evaluate media based on how anorexia is portrayed. Look for stories where the disorder is shown in a negative light and where characters strive towards recovery. It’s beneficial if the protagonist is a teenager, allowing for a stronger connection and identification. Ensure the narrative doesn’t glorify the disorder or present it as a solution to problems.

What Are the Signs That a Teenager Might Be Influenced Negatively by Media Depicting Anorexia?

Negative influence can manifest as an increased obsession with body image, weight, and dieting after consuming certain media. If a teen begins to idolize characters with unhealthy behaviors or expresses admiration for their methods, this can be a red flag. Pay attention to changes in eating habits, self-esteem, and body language.

Where Can Parents Find Reliable Recommendations for Anorexia-Themed Media Suitable for Teenagers?

Parents can consult psychologists, school counselors, or healthcare professionals specializing in adolescent mental health for recommendations. Online forums, parent groups, and mental health organization websites also offer curated lists and reviews of suitable media. Libraries and bookstores may have sections dedicated to health and wellness with relevant titles.

When Is the Right Time to Introduce Anorexia-Themed Media to a Teenager?

The right time depends on the individual teen’s emotional maturity and their current stage in understanding or dealing with anorexia. It’s best to introduce such media when the teenager is open to discussion and seems ready to process and reflect on the content. Avoid introducing these during highly stressful periods or when the teen is experiencing heightened emotional distress.

How Can Watching a Movie or Reading a Book about Anorexia Lead to a Positive Change in a Teenager?

Movies and books can provide new perspectives and insights into the struggles of living with anorexia, potentially leading to empathy and self-recognition of unhealthy behaviors. These stories often carry messages of hope and the importance of seeking help, encouraging teenagers to reflect on their own situation and consider positive changes.

Originally published at https://beingmotherhood.com on December 2, 2023.

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