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Depicting Eating Disorders in Media

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

Last night I finally finished Season 4 of the Crown, which is to say that I have been a little behind in binge watching the entire thing. The acting and the storytelling in this series I think it extremely well done. Special kudos to Gillian Anderson's portrayal as Margaret Thatcher and the actress who played the late Princess Diana.

In many of the episodes, there was a warning ahead of the show that explained that there would be potentially disturbing depictions of an eating disorder as follows:

“The following episode includes scenes of an eating disorder which some viewers may find troubling. Viewer discretion is advised. Information and resources for those struggling with eating disorders are available at”

The scenes concern Princess Diana suffering from bulimia. And I will say, this is the first time that I have seen bulimia shown in all of it's grotesque glory. Many times in the media, the "easier" eating disorder to depicted would be anorexia as that would be a matter of not eating and getting thinner. But in the Crown, these scenes are heart-breaking and show the true pain of purging.

“I had bulimia for a number of years. And that's like a secret disease. You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don't think you're worthy or valuable. You fill your stomach up four or five times a day—some do it more—and it gives you a feeling of comfort. It's like having a pair of arms around you, but it's temporarily, temporary. Then you're disgusted at the bloatedness of your stomach, and then you bring it all up again.”

And that is exactly it.

I consider myself a survivor of "Mia", and years ago I wrote a piece (before leaving to move to Toronto) about breaking up with her. Even after I did break up with Mia ... I did find that I would slip back into a binge and purge cycle if going through anxiety or stress. Ironically enough, competing in fitness helped me overcome the eating disorder completely - as well as being in a loving marriage and working on myself.

Watching the Crown and the very raw depiction of what bulimia truly is... I sort of wish that I had this depiction in my life in my early 20's. Although there is much talk about the dangers of eating disorders, you are still getting thinner and as a result I think my understanding of them was in fact glamourized. But to see that this very dark shadow of this mental disease being so explicitly looked at has also helped me to truly feel like I am truly finally ...

over it.

I haven't slipped back into Mia in years and years now... and I have learned to just be more in tune with my body.

Competing itself brought on other disordered ways of looking at food, but really I think what drives those who suffer from eating disorders is a need to be in control when everything is just so out of whack.

I also realize that we live in the world of COVID-19 and that there are many of us who are also suffering from stress, anxiety, fear - and perhaps an eating disorder is a way that you are using to cope with it. If that is so, please don't be like 20 year old me and struggle and suffer in silence. There are resources out there to help you and it can be so helpful to just come out and admit it or "lift the veil".


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