If there is one insecurity that brings us all together, it’s definitely body image. We’re always bombarded with images of perfection and no matter how much we know about advertisements being Photoshopped or the extreme diets that celebrities endure or the fact that our bodies don’t prove our worth, it’s still hard not to tug at our love handles, scowl at our hip bones, Google “how to lose 15 lbs” or, in extreme cases, hurting our bodies to get the figure we want.
So it’s important when TV shows and movies don’t shy away from tackling the effects that body image struggles have on young women, whether it’s about embracing our bodies or rejecting them. Sure, plenty of shows have a Very Special Episode about it and some movies skirt by it, but there are some that actually give these topics the attention they deserve. If you have body image insecurities or just have a passion for body positivity and eating disorder recovery, here are 10 TV shows and movies you should check out ASAP!
SkinsTwo characters on Skins have suffered from anorexia--Cassie and Mini--and the show handled each girl's approach to the disorder in a way that emphasized that eating disorders are never one-size fits all. Source: Skins/E4
PreciousPrecious isn't just a movie about body image; it's also about poverty, racism, colorism and sexual abuse. But body image still pays a huge role in the film. Source: Precious/Lionsgate
Real Women Have CurvesBody image has a huge impact on our ability to feel beautiful and desirable. In Real Women Have Curves, America Ferrera plays a teenage girl who finds out how to love the body she's in, despite not fitting society's mainstream notion of beauty. Sure, the title is problematic (being a woman has nothing to do with your body shape), but it is still an empowering story. Source: Real Women Have Curves/HBO
Center StageBallet is notorious for its cut throat atmosphere, especially in terms of body type. This standard haunts Maureen, one of the film's ballerinas who secretly suffers from bulimia. She eventually grapples between choosing to have a life with or without ballet. Source: Center Stage/Columbia Pictures
DegrassiDegrassi's handling of body image issues often teetered into Very Special Episode territory. Nevertheless, the episodes that addressed body image and eating disorders were pretty memorable. These episodes include Terri embracing her plus-size figure, Emma developing anorexia and Toby becoming bulimic, which was probably the first and one of the only depictions of males with eating disorders that I've ever seen. Source: Degrassi/Teen Nick
The Sisterhood Of The Travelling PantsIf you want to watch something a little lighter, go for this movie. If any of you have ever felt insecure about your body compared to your friends, it definitely helps to have some pants that magically fit all of you. Sure, the movie will never beat the book, but the message is still solid in both mediums! Source: The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants/Warner Bros
Ugly BettyWe encounter society's beauty standards all the time in magazines, movies, television...but most of us don't work in an industry that produces so many of these harmful, unattainable and unrealistic images. Well, Betty did and the entire premise of the show emphasizes how much she doesn't fit in that mold. The show did a pretty great job at addressing these issues, and others. If you never checked it out before it was cancelled, definitely do it ASAP! Source: Ugly Betty/ABC
Girl InterruptedIf you're mostly familiar with Brittany Murphy in Clueless, you should definitely watch Girl Interrupted to see a totally different side of her acting range. She plays Daisy, a young patient in a mental institution who suffers from anorexia. Source: Girl Interrupted/Columbia Pictures
HairsprayYou don't have to be skinny to be an amazing dancer and shine. That's what Hairspray teaches us and, well, it's true! Check out the original 1988 film or the 2007 remake. Source: Hairspray/New Line Cinema
My Mad Fat DiaryI will never stop singing this show's praises. It centers around Rae, a 16-year-old girl who is overweight and struggles with self-harm and anxiety on top of friendship drama and boys boys boys. If you haven't checked it out yet, do yourself a favor and watch it immediately. Source: My Mad Fat Diary/E4
What other TV shows and movies have interesting portrayals of body image issues? Have any of them helped you out? Tell us in the comments.