Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire, Jo Swinson has called for the media to be more responsible in the way they report eating disorders as the Herald reports today.
She believes that there should be similar practice as for the reporting of suicide, where the details of how someone takes their life are not written about in detail. That’s not just out of common decency and taste and respect but to avoid people copying specific details of methods.
I think she has a point, specifically as families of people who have been very ill with eating disorders have said that they’ve used media stories showing skeletal figures as something aspirational.
Jo wants the media to abide by guidelines published by Beat eating disorders charity. There’s some good stuff in there which can teach all of us about eating disorders. I was struck by the study of Fiji, where women were quite comfortable with their bodies until US tv with super skinny body images took hold. Lo and behold, eating disorders developed. With that sort of effect, the media does have to behave responsibly.
Media Minister Ed Vaizey agreed to meet with Jo after she raised this with him in the Commons yesterday. I felt he was a bit lukewarm in his response to her, but Jo won’t let that phase her – she takes people on and wins, as she has now on several occasions with cosmetics giant L’Oreal.