Idol Worship and Disordered Eating

By Cindy Bishop on 06/23/2006
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I appreciate not everyone was as big a nut about American Idol this year as I was. And posting now a couple times about AI on a healthy weight management blog may seem a bit disconnected, but if AI isn’t a show about self image and pressure to be ‘marketable’ well, I don’t know what is. After all, isn’t trying to prove you’re ‘idol’ material (arguably) second only to having talent so unfortunately ‘American’?

All the more reason my heart went out to Elliott Yamin this year, because his talent far surpassed any consideration of his image. I believe his late in the race 2nd runner up underdog finish had as much to do with his improved image as with his tremendous talent. The AI image makers turned him into quite the hunk by mid-season, when America seemed to sit up and take notice.

But how does all this ‘idol business’ effect young women? First runner up, Katherine McPhee came out this past week to Teen People, confessing her struggle with severe bulimia for the previous five years up until the tryouts less than a year ago.

An excerpt from her recent interview:

McPhee attributes some of her problems with food to growing up in a city, where tremendous emphasis is placed on celebrity-slim bodies. "Growing up in Los Angeles and spending all those years in dance class, I’d been conscious of body image at a young age, and I went through phases of exercising compulsively and starving myself," she says.

By using the intuitive eating approach she learned at the Eating Disorder Center, McPhee was eventually able to redefine her relationship to food. "I learned that there’s no such thing as bad food," she says. "If you look at a doughnut, people think it’s a fattening food–why? Because if you eat it you’ll get fat? No, you’ll get fat if you eat 10 doughnuts." As a result, she dropped 30 pounds and broke her cycle of bingeing and purging. "That’s why I say American Idol saved my life, because if I hadn’t auditioned, I don’t think I would have gotten a handle on food."

Kathrine McPhee may not have been my American Idol choice for this season, but she has millions of fans, comprised apparently of legions of teen and tween girls. She is to be commended for coming out to speak to young women about her struggles with eating and self image at a time when her own image has been thrust up on that unrealistic American Idol pedestal. That took courage.

We wish her all the success she has coming to her.

Source: Yahoo News

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One Response (Add Yours)

  • Jane says:

    I grew up in California too, no dance classes though, and yes everyone wanted to be a size 1. When I moved to Washington state I could not beleive how much heavier people were in general, I was so used to tanned and toned being the norm. For a minute when we arrived here, I felt thin. Only for a minute though!

    Jane

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