Body Shots: Hollywood and the Culture of Eating Disorders

By Yoo, Jeong-Ju | Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

Body Shots: Hollywood and the Culture of Eating Disorders


Yoo, Jeong-Ju, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences


Body Shots: Hollywood and the Culture of Eating Disorders By Emily Fox-Kales (2011)

This book echoes the culture in the United States in which physical appearance represents an important value. Although the topic appeals to audiences in many fields, I found this book particularly relevant for family and consumer sciences (FCS) students, scholars, and educators. It brings a unique perspective, in that Fox-Kales weaves abundant examples from contemporary movies with the compelling stories she has heard from her patients, reaffirming how the media can fuel unhealthy behaviors of individuals related to their bodies, particularly eating disorders.

Each chapter contains text and visual representations of popular movies and reality shows as social influences on women. Ordinary women perceive discrepancies between the bodies represented by Hollywood celebrities and their own bodies. We have already learned that the media has a pervasive influence on our body satisfaction, bulimic and anorexic attitudes, and other appearance-related concerns. However, this book goes beyond what we already know. Women's varying perceptions are illustrated by real accounts from the author's clinical patients, who do not measure up to the ideal body portrayed. Particular examples of movie scenes and their connection to the lived experiences of clinical patients are forceful, undeniable, and intriguing. The author's vast experiences and knowledge in the treatment of eating disorders and her patients' attempts to meet cultural expectations are well documented.

Much of the content embraces film incidents in which obese women are victims of social and economic stigmatization, who in turn, become victims of oppression and depression. Just to name a few who represent body transformation and stigmatization: Jennifer Lopez in Maid in Manhattan, Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, and Gwyneth Paltrow in Shallow Hall. These actresses can propagate the values of an "eating disordered culture" and promote self- scrutiny, the denial of food, and extreme weight control of ordinary women. The wider the gap between the body ideal that women internalize and that of their own bodies, the more driven they are to close the gap by imposing harsh regimes of dietary restraint and body discipline. Belief in the compulsive pursuit of the ideal body is powerfully conveyed in this book; the personal accounts shared by the individuals are real, movies are not.

The consequences of falling under the influence of thin celebrities directly affect an individual's quality of life. …

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