On tonight's premiere episode, though, the show did something it never has before. The idea behind the photo shoot was "model stereotypes," and two contestants, a pair of twins, played disordered models. One was supposed to be bulimic, and the other anorexic. Both girls were incredibly thin and kind of pale and sickly looking, which was probably why they were picked.
As soon as I heard "model stereotypes," I knew there would be EDs involved. I was worried that they would be tasteless photos, that the contestants would make fun of disorders, that any number of terrible, stereotype-enforcing things would happen. (All I could think about was that ridiculous Pink video, actually.) But I was actually impressed by how the topic was handled. No one overtly said much about it, in either direction. I figured Tyra would ramble on about the horror of eating disorders (I love a good Tyra rant), or one of the judges would make some terrible joke, but no one really mentioned it. It was treated as just another stereotype, really.
And the photos were, in my opinion, amazing. Both models (who are so awkward in real life but seem amazing in front of a camera) looked like they knew what they were talking about. I don't know if either of them had struggled with disorders, but they both nailed it. The one playing anorexic had a measuring tape around her waist, and she was staring away from it, looking terrified. She legitimately looked like someone trapped by her weight and her body-- the way we all feel, all the time. I was expecting the "bulimic" model to be tastelessly splayed in front of a toilet, but instead, she was sitting on one. Her hands were covered in what looked like cake, and one of her hands was just sort of floating near her mouth, like she was about to purge or already had. She looked right at the camera, like she had been caught, and she looked so ashamed-- of eating, and of purging.
It's possible that I'm overidentifiyng with the models, I guess, and projecting my own emotions onto them. But I don't think I was, at least not too much. I just think they were amazing photographs. I wish I could find them somewhere, but they're not online yet.
Of course, give it time, and I'm sure the pictures will make into countless "thinspiration" icons. Which is sort of sad-- I liked the photos because they didn't glorify eating disorders. But I guess we all see things differently because of our disorders, and none of us are immune to that.
Anyway. This was much longer than I intended it be. Thoughts?
ETA@6:52AM: The links are now behind the cut. Warning: They're really triggering, feauturing models portraying anorexia and bulimia in kind of a graphic way.
Amanda - Anorexia
[squeezing in her waist with tape measure]
Michelle - Bulimia
[sitting on toilet with smashed doughnuts]
(The links are from circumlocutions, and i used her descriptions as well. Thank you!)