Stay classy, GMA

A few minutes ago, I got this update from my friend Harriet Brown, author of the upcoming book Brave Girl Eating.

"The Good Morning America appearance was canceled after I refused to allow photos of my daughter at her sickest appear onscreen. Makes me ashamed to be a journalist."

Because there's no other way to talk about eating disorders and treatment and recovery than showing pictures of emaciated children...right?

Save the voyeurism for bad reality TV shows. We don't need it to show how devastating an eating disorder can be.

It's GMA's loss, really. The appearance would have been a great opportunity to educate people and dispel myths about eating disorders. And now, because of a producer's stupidity, that opportunity is lost.

Will people ever learn?

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Jackie said...

I just saw this on the Brave Girl Eating facebook page, & left the following comment:

"Thankyou so much for not backing down on this - for caring enough about your daughter, & for caring about the people who may have been watching.

Weight change in an eating disorder, is a result of symptomatic behaviour caused by mental illness. It is not in itself an indictor of severity of illness, & does nothing more than glamourise the illness & encourage competition.

It angers me that every story we see about eating disorders focuses on weight first of all, then behavioural symptoms. I would for once love a story about what "struggling with an eating disorder" really means - what it feels like, the mental anguish...that's the real struggle. Behaviours are easy. The struggle is in the fight. It's in recovery. That's the true struggle, & to take on that fight takes so much courage.

That is what the media should write stories about - that is something to celebrate & praise. But as long as they focus on illness - on the bahvioural symptoms, & secondary weight changes - they are continuing to promote the message that this is what is important - there is no achievement in recovery, there is only acheivement in being ill.

So thankyou again, & shame on GMA."

Lisa said...

agreed. This is ridiculous. They wanted the pictures for media attention. We aren't zoo animals...this disease shouldn't be showcased like that. it's a MENTAL disorder ...that affects us physically but putting that out there to catch the attention of the media is outright wrong...


stay strong and thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

Good for the family and shame on the TV show.

Exposing the truth about eating disorders and being honest about their impact is important but there's a difference between being open and allowing media sources with their own agendas abuse sufferers' histories for their own ends.

It's a sad fact that a lot of treatment of medical 'oddities' and mental health conditions are handled insensitively by television to create 'freakshows' and voyeuristic 'ohmygawd!' spectacles on the box.


Cathy (UK) said...

I'm really pleased that Harriet disallowed the photos. Sometimes all the media seem want to promote is sensationalism and voyeurism.

I was asked to do a media interview a couple of years ago about over-exercise in AN. Of course, the newspaper wanted graphic photos and to talk about how thin I was. I decided to pull out.

It seems that as far as some individuals are concerned, AN = thin (or 'dying to be thin') and that is all. Verdict = Unhelpful.

Kou said...

Wow. Would they have asked for pictures at her sickest if her daughter had suffered from any other illness?

I would imagine that those sorts of pictures, as well as the detailed weight and calorie information that often leaks into talks about EDs, are only of interest to people who are currently ill.

Angela Elain Gambrel said...

They wanted the pictures for pure shock value and nothing more. I'm glad Harriet Brown cared enough about her daughter to protect her from that.

The other problem with showing pictures while she was at her sickest, i.e. thinnest, is it just perpetuates the myth that eating disorders = emaciation. Many people are very sick when not emaciated, but I don't think the general public really understands this. The pictures would have just reinforced the myth, and possibly also be triggering to some people. Bad idea all-around.

Emily said...

How frustrating, GMA. What is important about anorexia is that it knows no size, but I guess that doesn't make for a compelling segment, does it? I'm motivated to write a letter to the producers. Clearly their priorities are out of whack.

Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul said...

Wow, wow, wow. While I understand from a purely media perspective why the show would ask, to cancel the appearance is absurd and disheartening. I'm so proud of Brown for standing up for herself, her daughter, and all those suffering, as well as all those who aren't yet suffering but could be triggered by such images.

Danielle said...

Gosh,i hope they do! I guess when people go through the experience, they feel more strongly about it but still! People need to open their eyes! Eating disorders are a serious thing and if we don't do something then it could get worse

HikerRD said...

Love your site!! Well done. Let me know how I can share my blog on your site and I would like to link to yours as well.
Lori Lieberman, RD, CDE, MPH, LDN

Mary B said...

That is the most ridiculous request I've ever heard! I keep up with Ms. Brown's blog and am looking forward to the release of her new book. As a young women working to recover from anorexia, I would like to applaud Harriet's decision to support her daughter and forgo an appearance on GMA. Thank you!!

Cynical Nymph said...

That's just sickening of GMA. Not surprising, mind you, but sickening.

Maybe GMA will host the producers of that upcoming E! show that's promising to show eating disordered symptoms of a severity "never before seen on television." :p Seems right up GMA's alley.

Ari J. Brattkus said...

This makes me angry.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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