“I made Jimmy pancakes in the shape of Jesus to get over his male anorexia!”
Yes you just read that. And hold on; before we move on let me get my eyes unstuck from the SERIOUS eye roll that just occurred.
That infuriating quote is from a trailer promoting ‘The Real O’Neal’s’, a new show coming to ABC in March. Let me take a moment to remind you that it is 2016 now.
Now that we know what year it is, let me also share this staggering statistic: Males represent 25% of individuals with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and 36% of those with binge eating disorder.
Just in the United States alone, 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their life.
I’m not sure what the producers and writers of this show were thinking when they sat down in the writing room. I’m going to make the assumption they didn’t know these statistics. But did they honestly think that this sitcom would be enhanced and funnier if they threw in a joke about a disease with a high mortality rate?
I pride myself on having a pretty good sense of humor – but there is nothing funny about this illness. Not a single thing. Yet here we are, in 2016 and we have a TV show making light of anorexia.
The thing that makes me angry is that a family somewhere is going to be sitting down watching TV and their son or daughter may hear this commercial and feel even more ashamed of what they are struggling with. They might continue to hide the fact that they’re sick because they are afraid everyone will assume it’s a joke.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that TV has to be controversial but would we ever joke about cancer on TV? No. Why do we continue to treat mental illness so differently than physical or chronic illness?
So to the producers of ‘The Real O’Neal’s’ I seriously hope you never know what it is to have an eating disorder, or what it is like to see a family member struggle intensely with the illness. I hope your son or daughter never spends months or years in a treatment center. I hope you never have to go through that. But I hope you can find some empathy in your soul for all of those in recovery.
Because I hate being the one to break the news to you that pancakes don’t cure eating disorders – and neither does making light of them.