How to Make an Anorexic; the Care and Feeding of an Eating Disorder

This morning, I was listening to a radio show where the hosts were discussing Tori Spelling and her six kids. (If you don’t know who Tori Spelling is, good for you. She’s a reality tv personality.)

One of the hosts commented that all her kids looked overweight, and she surmised that they must be stressed out and their cortisol levels are high, leading to heavy junk food intake. (Ms. Spelling has, indeed, had a tumultuous few years. She is a reality tv star, after all.)

But there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with her children. They’re not skinny kids, but they look pretty normal. Maybe they’re about to have a growth spurt? Maybe it doesn’t matter!

It’s so hard to be the “right” weight at any age and particularly with kids. We love a chubby baby, but not a chubby 8 year old. We tell a plump teen to lose weight, but then when she loses “too much” weight, we freak out and tell her to eat.

For some reason, I’m reminded of Tracey Gold, who some may remember from the tv show, Growing Pains from the 1980s? As a pre-teen actress in movies and made-for-tv movies, Gold struggled with anorexia. She found a way out and returned to a healthy weight by her mid-teens.

In 1988 at age 19,while starring on Growing Pains, Gold gained some weight over the series hiatus. That season, the show’s scripts called for her to be the brunt of fat jokes from her television brothers for many episodes in a row.

Beginning in October 1988, Gold dieted from 133 pounds to about 110 pounds on a medically supervised 500-calorie-a-day diet, but still occasionally the scripts included fat jokes at her expense. In her autobiography, she says that between 1989 and 1991, she became increasingly obsessed with food and her weight and continued to slowly and steadily lose weight. In 1990 Gold began group therapy in an eating disorder program, but only learned more ways to lose weight. That season, her problem with weight loss was touched upon slightly on her television series, when Gold is seen looking at her body in a carnival mirror, and describes to another character the distorted image in her head. In 1991, she started starving herself more than ever and vomiting, and lost a massive amount of weight, to the point that she was admitted to a hospital in early 1992. Her lowest weight is estimated to have been near 80 pounds. She was suspended from the show for her skeletal appearance. Photos of Gold’s emaciated body were plastered all over tabloid magazines, and she was one of the first celebrities ever to be formally outed for anorexia. She last appeared in the 1991 episode, “Menage a Luke” after missing the two prior episodes where her problem is very obvious in some scenes, and did not return until the last two shows of the series in the late spring of 1992, although she was not nearly recovered at this point.

What a nightmare on so many levels. A healthy young Tracey Gold had gained a few pounds and so the producers decided to make her THE BUTT OF FAT JOKES! That’s heinous to begin with, but knowing her history of anorexic, it’s truly criminal. Then, to put her on a 500 calorie a day diet – that’s starvation and particularly dangerous for an anorexic. And of course, as one would expect, she’s triggered to keep going and keep losing more weight. And then she’s punished.

I relate to much of her story, even and including learning to throw up from fellow group therapy members.

Going back to Tori Spelling and her kids. Over the years, Tori Spelling, herself, has tended to lose scarey amounts of weight. She’s often been considered anorexic. Let’s not start on her kids. Let’s leave them alone.

2 thoughts on “How to Make an Anorexic; the Care and Feeding of an Eating Disorder

  1. I read her book and she also spoke at the 2012 NEDA Walk in San Jose (CA) that I went to… she talked a lot about that (it was a repeat to me since I had read her book). So glad she’s doing so great now! I would love to say we’re beyond shaming people in public ways about “an extra few pounds” but… are we?? I’m not sure. Even if you don’t have official TV producers and writers putting things into scripts, now there’s social media and everyone thinks they’re a freaking critic. There are still people that think they’re “well meaning” that make comments about weight. You get the people that rant about how obesity is a much bigger problem than eating disorders and it’s better to get people at least not be in an overweight situation. Don’t even get me started on the skewed BMI scale. Ugh.

    Honestly it’s all just disgusting and a mess and you’re one of the few blogs I read and comment on these days that deal with all this. Because for the most part, I just don’t want to be a part of it anymore. Eating disorders are just plain boring to me. Diets are boring. Obsessing about weight and body = boring. I hope more people will realize this!


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