A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this docuseries -- which follows adults suffering from an array of eating disorders and food compulsions and shows how they are attempting to overcome them -- includes gritty images of people taking massive amounts of laxatives, eating toilet paper, and other potentially disturbing behaviors. Yelling, screaming, and crying sometimes results from tough therapy sessions and/or exchanges with family (with words like “s--t” and “f--k” fully bleeped). People occasionally appear in their underwear. All of this is accompanied by important messages about getting well and being healthy. Parents may want to watch with their teens.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
WHAT’S EATING YOU is a six-part documentary that follows adults trying to save themselves from life-threatening eating disorders. Cameras follow men and women who are battling medical conditions ranging from anorexia nervosa and bulimia to lesser known obsessive food rituals and compulsions. With the help of therapists, medical doctors, and dieticians, they attempt to confront their disorder, rebuild their relationship with food, and work towards living a longer and healthier life.
Is it any good?
The series offers viewers a gritty look into the worlds of people trapped by their dysfunctional relationship with food and eating. It also offers a chance to learn more about eating disorders and who develops them. The experts on the show underscore the fact that an eating disorder is a symptom of a larger problem, and that a person cannot be successful in treating it if they are not willing to confront the problem.
The series is a little voyeuristic, and scenes of people taking large amounts of laxatives, struggling to swallow small bits of food, and compulsively eating things like chalk and toilet paper, are often difficult to watch. But they are offered as a way of providing insight into what these people are going through, and are accompanied by important messages about recovery. Given all of this, viewers may be left wondering why this reality-doc is being aired on a network known for promoting idealized celebrity images that some would say contribute to the distorted way some people feel about their bodies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about eating disorders. What causes the onset of an eating disorder? What’s the difference between a compulsion and a disorder? How does the media contribute to a person’s relationship with food and/or his/her body image?
Talk about who gets eating disorders. Do girls develop eating disorders more than boys do? Kids: If you suspect that you or someone you know has an eating disorder, what should you do? Parents: how can you help your kids develop and maintain a positive body image?
Talk about the people in this series. Why do you think they agreed to appear on the show? Do you think they are being exploited, or are they helping others by sharing their stories?
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