Do These Jeans Make Me Look Fat? Adolescent Eating Disordered Behaviors and Body Image Dissatisfaction as Examined in Linda Daugherty's Eat (It's Not About Food)
Fleming, Adrienne Ann
University of Kansas
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Western culture maintains an intense obsession with body image. The sheer volume of diet and performance-enhancing products, as well as weight loss and exercise plans; prove dizzying in an intensely mediated culture. Moreover, the equation of thinness as physical perfection permeates these mediated messages. Teenagers have a particular vulnerability to the concept of body image. Teenagers battle internal as well as external physical pressures surrounding the thin-ideal on a daily basis. Yet, too often these struggles remain unspoken, leading to the development of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa. I propose that a theatrical experience which presents the dark and tortured world of body image and eating disorders provides the necessary spark for positive conversation as a means to challenge the mediated thin-ideal. Through analysis of Linda Daugherty’s 2008 script, Eat (It’s Not About Food), alongside the medical literature, the potential for such conversations becomes evident. Considerations of eating disorders, body image as a construct and the mediated forces at work behind this notion provides a more thorough analysis of the production elements. Furthermore, the reflection on theatre as a methodology provides insight into ways to utilize dramatic procedures to assist those teenagers struggling with body image. I organize my analysis of Daugherty’s illustrations of the side effects of anorexia and bulimia nervosa into five areas: psychological, mediated, behavioral, social, and physical. This allows the accuracy of the portrayals major focus. Also, the inclusions of a study guide and interactive forum designed for the production serve as conduits for deeper processing of the presented dramatic themes. Placing these topics in the theatrical space allows the pathway for fruitful conversation to unfold. In doing so, teenagers can confidently challenge the enforced thin-ideal and fearlessly claim their own distinctive characteristics.
- Theatre Scholarly Works 
- Theses 
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