🚨 Warning: This article mentions eating disorders. 🚨
A clip from the movie Ice Princess recently went viral on TikTok with over 2.7 million views. In the scene, three ice skaters are ordering lunch, and their picks are incredibly restrictive and emblematic of diet culture.
In the comments on TikTok, people shared the ways scenes that promote diet culture in movies and TV shows affect young audiences and their relationship with their bodies into adulthood.
Here are 13 more times movies or TV shows that are meant for young audiences body-shamed characters, from promoting diet culture to joking about eating disorders:
1. TikTokers have pointed out several instances where the Nickelodeon hit, Zoey 101, promoted diet culture. In one example, Zoey, Lola, and Nicole are discussing how "bad" it would be if they ate a piece of cake.
2. In another episode of Zoey 101, Coco, a character whose weight is frequently made fun of throughout the series, tells Zoey she is seeing a new nutritionist who is encouraging her to eat more salads. When she shares that she's using Thousand Island dressing, Zoey tells her it's "really fattening."
3. When Mia said she was nervous for a royal speaking engagement in The Princess Diaries, a group of school bullies ask if she's speaking at the "bulimic convention," so she could "speak and barf" at the same time.
4. A line from the Disney series, Shake It Up, was so controversial that it was removed from future airings of the show after Demi Lovato tweeted at Disney. In "Party It Up," a model looks at Cece and Rocky and tells them, "I could just eat you up, you know, if I ate," while laughing.
5. A recurring plot line in Pretty Little Liars revolved around Hanna, one of the main characters, as she developed an eating disorder. In flashback scenes, she is referred to as "Hefty Hanna," is depicted binge-eating, and her friends are often shown asking her if "she's really going to eat that?" Once Hanna starts purging, she loses weight and instantly is seen as popular and beautiful. She's later tortured by A to binge eat, then purge in order to keep her secrets safe.
6. In A Cinderella Story, Sam, played by Hilary Duff, works at a diner, which leads to several problematic mentions of dieting and food. While a group of teens order a meal in one scene, one turns to the other and says, "Madison, laxatives don't qualify as a food group."
Later in the scene, someone asks Sam what they can order "that has no sugar, no carbs, and is fat-free?"
7. In "Inner Beauty," a 2002 episode of Lizzie McGuire, Miranda decides that she needs to go on a crash diet to lose weight after seeing a photo of herself that she thought was unflattering.
8. A storyline from Season 2 of Glee revealed that Quinn Fabray, a popular cheerleader, only became well-liked after she lost a significant amount of weight, changed her name, and transferred schools. Her nickname was even "Lucy Caboosey."
9. In a 2013 episode of Jessie called "Quitting Cold Koala," a character named Stuart reveals that he has a gluten allergy. Zuri proceeds to throw a pancake at him as he recoils in horror. Ravi responds, "Whoa, he makes me look macho." This comment sparked backlash for poking fun at people with food allergies. There was even a petition to stop airing the episode. Disney Channel later revealed that they removed the offensive remarks from future airings.
10. After a confrontation over the race for homecoming queen in the Disney Channel movie, Princess Protection Program, a character says, "I'd rather eat carbs than see her wear my crown."
11. After eating bacon in an episode of the Disney Channel series Good Luck Charlie, PJ has a nightmare that he's going to gain weight. In the scene, the entire house shakes as he comes down the stairs, and he is shown getting stuck while walking through the kitchen door as his family ridicules him.
12. In "Health and Fitness," a episode of The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody that aired in 2007, a fellow model tells Maddie that she's too thin and London that she's overweight as they prepare to participate in a charity fashion show. As a result of the comments, Maddie binge-eats, while London restricts her food intake.
Another plot line in the episode revolves around Carey putting Zack on a diet. She restricts his food, compares him to other kids his age, and scolds him for sneaking out of bed to eat.
13. And finally, in the 2004 movie Sleepover, Yancy, a middle-schooler, is frequently made fun of for her weight by the popular girls. She even recalls a time when they forced her to stand on a scale in the locker room in front of everyone, which she says was "the worst moment of my life."
Do any other problematic food and body-shaming scenes from movies or TV shows geared towards younger audiences come to mind? Let us know in the comments!
The National Eating Disorders Association helpline is 1-800-931-2237; for 24/7 crisis support, text “NEDA” to 741741.