Dear Hollywood: Eating disorders

By Gus Bode

It seems as though Hollywood is all about the extremes.

From super-short skirts to ultra-tanned bombshells and uber-thin actresses, Hollywood can’t seem to get enough radical behavior and appearances.

It’s easy to get lost in the appearance and feel like maybe that’s what it takes to be the best you – fakery and drastic measures to look just like the A-listers.


But one publication is flipping these extremes and encouraging youth to be comfortable in their own skins, and thankfully, Hollywood is participating.

Seventeen magazine, which according to the New York Times circulates to more than 2 million readers, has created the Seventeen Body Peace Treaty to combat the ill-effects of entertainment extremes. The petition – signed by actresses and singers including “Hairspray” star Brittany Snow, pop singers Pink and Fergie, as well as infamous “Heroes” cheerleader Hayden Panettiere – contains positive writing on body images and allows visitors to Seventeen’s Web site to sign it.

Some of the pledges in the petition include, “Respect my body by feeding it well, working up a sweat when it needs it, and knowing when to give it a break,” and “Remind myself that what you see isn’t always what you get on TV and in ads – it takes a lot of airbrushing, dieting, money and work to look like that.”

This is a wonderful movement for those in Hollywood to participate. While eating disorders and body images are not solely products of entertainment media, the notion we are bombarded by perceptions and representations of perfection and beauty from infancy is true.

With that idea in mind, entertainment media has at least some bearing on how we perceive ourselves and whether we find ourselves to measure up to these images.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health’s Web site, one in five women struggle with eating disorders or bad eating habits, while an estimated 10 to 15 percent of all those with eating disorders are men.

These disturbing numbers are representative of a mental and physical health crisis that can be lessened by encouraging healthy body images and behavior. Hopefully, Hollywood’s leading men will jump in on the campaign as well to encourage this positive perception of bodies.


While it is questionable that a petition such as Seventeen’s signed by a handful of celebrities can actually cause a movement, the fact more than 12,000 individuals who are not famous have signed it says a lot.

Even if it only encourages one person to think a little more positively about him or herself, it’s probably worth it.

So here’s to you, Hollywood. Thanks for being a part of something that has the potential to help those dealing with body image issues and letting people know they’re perfect just the way they are.

And you definitely are.

Alicia Wade can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected].