7 TV Characters Who Dealt With Eating Disorders In Unrealistic Ways

This might be hard to believe, but eating disorders didn’t really pop up on most of our radars until the last couple of decades. If you don’t believe me, check out this algorithm that inspects the popularity of phrases over time. If you type in eating disorder, anorexic, or bulimia, you’ll see a sharp rise in its usage between the late ’70s and early ’80s. Sure, the culture we live in likely contributed to its rise, but it’s not like there wasn’t a girl in 1966 who threw up after every meal. In 1983, singer Karen Carpenter of The Carpenters died of heart failure from complications with anorexia, which helped the condition and other eating disorders come out of the closet. The increase awareness over the past thirty plus years has been a literal lifesaver for the millions.

With this awareness–and higher numbers of people suffering from eating disorders in the first place–has come pop culture’s take on taking on the issue. Of course, like everything pop culture, there have been both good and bad, accurate and inaccurate, groundbreaking and hokey portrayals of eating disorders and body image woes, especially in television. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s those inaccurate portrayals that we remember most. Here are seven characters who unrealistically dealt with eating disorders.

What other TV shows did a good job tackling eating disorders? Which ones did a terrible job? What Tell us in the comments!

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  • I note that Sharon is even skinnier than the girl she compares herself too. I think Mad Men presents a more realistic take on eating disorders (or disordered eating).