The Corpus Callosum

My Objection To This News

CNN has a report
about a cluster of deaths from Anorexia, in Brazil.  

The subject has become a morbid fascination for
Brazilians, and is even the theme of a popular TV soap opera. It has
also touched off a debate within Brazil’s fashion industry that has
long presented the rail-thin model as the paragon of female beauty.

The objection I have is that the article provides the heights and
weights of the women at their time of death.  I don’t think
there is any way that the journalists or editors would know this, but
persons with Anorexia often are highly competitive.  Reporting
how “successful” the deceased persons were at losing weight, the
article could increase the perceived competitive pressure.

Perhaps they think they are highlighting the danger of extreme weight
loss, and thereby cautioning against this behavior.  But it
could just as easily have the opposite effect.  It would be
far better for them to simply report the unfortunate deaths in a
respectful way.


  1. #1 Rob Knop
    December 28, 2006

    Your objection is spot on.

    My wife volunteers with the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee. One thing I’ve learned is that often various organizations get former models and beauty queens to go on the lecture circuit, telling their story. Ostensively, this is to serve as a warning message for other young women. In practice, many in the audience use it both as a goal and/or something to compete with, and as a source of techniques to avoid eating.


  2. #2 Artemis
    December 30, 2006

    Thanks for writing about this — I read about it this morning in the New York Times, and was appalled at the weights listed. I was wondering how best to dicuss the topic, but will defer to your coverage!

  3. #3 psychoa
    January 2, 2007

    I find that media coverage of disordered eating is all too often prurient (which is how the naming of numbers in this piece reads to me) and/or minimizing. An example of the latter: in today’s AM NewYork (a local Manhattan paper) the cover story is about how often subway delays are caused by women fainting in response to drastic food restriction. But the problem is made to seem trivial, something silly women do to achieve “bikini bodies” for summer and which coulf be solved if they’d just eat a little breakfast.

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