10 Movies About Eating Disorders

Here are 10 movies about eating disorders that deal with different types of eating disorders. With the media reflecting an impossible to replicate image of what beauty and perfection is supposed to look like, eating disorders have plagued young women for decades. Although they weren't often featured in stories or the media until the tragic death of singer Karen Carpenter from anorexia in the early 1980's, therapists and sufferers of anorexia have long been trying to understand the illness. Here are some movies about those who suffer. Some are inspiring but all are thought-provoking.

  1. "The Karen Carpenter Story" starring Cynthia Gibb as Karen was made in 1989 with help from Karen's family. It is based upon the true story of the singing superstar who passed away from anorexia at the young age of 32. Karen Carpenter is one of the most iconic figures in pop music history.
  2. "Thin" is a striking documentary about anorexia by Lauren Greenfield. It's tag line is "Thin: If it takes dying to get there, so be it." The documentary follows the lives of four young women, who are between the ages of 15 to 30, as they attempt to heal in a recovery facility.
  3. The brilliant Jennifer Jason Leigh portrayed Casey Powell in 1981's "The Best Little Girl in the World." She plays a shy, young daughter who deals with a passive father and controlling mother. As an attempt to keep her parents happy after the pregnancy of her older sister becomes a scandal for the family, Casey tries to control the only thing she feels she can: her eating. She dives into self-starvation.
  4. Lynda Carter stars as the concerned mom of a teen with an eating disorder in "When Friendship Kills." It was originally titled "A Secret Between Friends: A Moment of Truth Movie." Lonely Lexi is so thrilled to have found a friend, but the friend introduces her to dangerous eating disorder practices. "You can never be too rich or too thin," exclaims her popular friend Jennifer. Both become thin with their eating disorder, which they keep secret until it almost kills one of them.
  5. "Girl, Interrupted" is probably one of the most popular films that deal with disordered eating. Several of the girls at the mental hospital where character Susannah stays deal with an eating disorder of some kind. The character "Janet" agonizes over her anorexia, and the long-suffering character "Daisy" (played brilliantly by the late Brittany Murphy) has issues with eating as well.
  6. Another classic film about eating disorders is about Karen Carpenter. Todd Haynes' infamous telling of Karen's story is called "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story." His film, in which he uses Barbie dolls in place of actors, is perhaps the first stark, honest portrayal of the emotional pain that is often accompanied by disordered eating. The 43-minute movie used Barbie and Ken dolls to sympathetically tell Karen's struggle with anorexia. It never saw a wide audience, as Karen Carpenter's brother, Richard, served a cease and desist order when Todd failed to get permission for the story or the use of the Carpenters music. It is still widely seen underground and online.
  7. "The David Cassidy Story" from 2000 was a bit controversial. The singer didn't get permission from his co-stars to include them in his story. It's well done, though, and part of the movie deals with the anorexia of Susan Dey, David's co-star in "The Partridge Family,"
  8. "Michael Landon: The Father I Knew" was made by the famous director's son, Michael Landon, Jr. In the film, he shows how his father's jokes about his daughter's eating habits and other actions led to his sister's eating disorder. Although he was met with resistance by family members for making the movie, it isn't exactly a scathing tale.
  9. "Kate's Secret" is a movie that tells the story of an average woman. Kate is longing to be perfect, though. Her bout with anorexia and refusal to get help for her eating disorder almost leads to her death.
  10. "For the Love of Nancy" is a powerful film about anorexia. it stars Tracey Gold, who openly battled with anorexia while starring on the 1980's hit "Growing Pain." Its a painfully honest portrayal of the disease.
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