Last night, on Lifetime, a new show premiered: Starving Secrets with Tracy Gold. I was hesitant to watch it, afraid that it was going to be triggering. If you had seen the show on E!, What’s Eating You, I found it very triggering. I wasn’t a big fan of the way it was set up. But for some reason, I decided to watch this new show.
First up, here’s a little background on Tracy Gold. If you ever watched Growing Pains, you would know that she was Carol. At age 19, she was put on a diet by the directors. From that point on, she was on a mission to lose weight, on a mission to be perfect. At some points, she was on the edge of death. But Tracy was able to pull through. As she puts it, “I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m recovered.” Now, she is helping those struggling with an eating disorder.
I watched the show, not knowing what to expect. At points, I felt triggered but then Tracy and the other therapists talked about how much their habits are hurting them. I was really happy in the beginning of the episode because no weights were told. Then partly through the episode, some weights were revealed. I understand why they said those numbers, but at the same time, I felt they could have done without.
In this episode, there were two girls: Rivka (anorexia) and Melissa (bulimia).
Rivka has been overcome with anorexia for the past 14 years of her life. She has been in and out of recovery 9 times. Eating only 500 calories a day and walking 6 hours a day, she calls to Tracy as a final cry. She was flown to Los Angeles and given outpatient treatment. Rivka struggled throughout the entire episode, hiding the fact that she was secretly walking. After 180 days in outpatient, she decided to take the next step and go into inpatient. She was able to graduate and is a lot happier now. Seeing pictures of her after, she looks so much happier and healthier. As her friend said before, “She looked like death.” Now, she looks 100 times happier. When Tracy asked her how her body image was, she said, “I still struggle with it. But everything around me is so much better, that it’s worth it.”
At age 14, Melissa was hospitalized for anorexia. Throughout her entire life, she has dealt with severe self esteem issues. Not wanting to face the problems in her life, she turned to bulimia. Being 22 and in severe debt, she wanted help in order to maintain a job and friendships. After 108 days in treatment, Melissa was able to graduate with some new friends. She spent those 108 days without purging a single time. 8 months later, and she still hasn’t purged. As of now, her goal is to move back with her family in New Jersey and go back to school. (The exercise psychologist that Melissa went to was the same one that I went to. She was very helpful.)
This showed how much happier life can be without an eating disorder. During the ED, Rivka and Melissa were completely miserable. Now, they have dreams and hopes to go on and do better things with their lives.
As of right now, I have mixed feelings about ED shows being on TV. For those not affected by an ED, it can be very eye-opening and educational. But at the same time, it can cause those with an ED to become triggered. Much of what is learned about eating disorders is from TV. So if a girl saw this show, they would think to starting purging to help lose “just 5 pounds.” Or if somebody in recovery were to watch this show, they may fall back into their old habits.
So I’m not sure what to think about this show yet. I’m on the fence.
What do you think? Should shows about eating disorders be on TV?