In the News: Millions of Americans have had an experience with an eating disorder, and three percent of U.S. adolescents are affected by one, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. Tabloid magazines often highlight personal struggles of celebrities, actors and models whose quest to be thin can often land them in the eating-disorder category. While their conditions are well-publicized in the tabloids, everyday people suffer these often-deadly disorders in private.
The Scenario: A too-thin model type and her demanding agent are lunching at a restaurant. The agent warns her client that she won't represent her anymore unless she eats less and loses weight. She suggests near-starvation, pills, bulimia and constant exercise. We try our scenario first with a young adult actress playing the client; later, we bring in an actress playing an eager 14-year-old child new to the business. Will anyone intervene?
What They Said:
"You need to lose 10 pounds and I need it done in a week and a half."
-- our actress posing as an agent
"You ate grilled cheese. Ok, I'm sorry but I'm gonna have to ask you to try to throw up."
-- our actress, portraying a mentor schooling her agent's eager new client how to lose weight
"I don't want to be in the fashion industry if I have to stick my fingers down my throat at the age of 14. …Do you know how you're screwing up that little girl's head right now? She's 14. You're sick. You really are a monster."
-- woman confronting the agent
"I could not allow her to be treated that way. …I don't know if I hadn't seen your show, I'm not sure that I could have gotten up and gone after her."
-- customer who defended the child