Social policy expert: “Eating disorders have an image problem”

Lucy Bassett, Professor of Practice at the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, is available to provide commentary on the portrayal of eating disorders in the media and implications for treatment access and equity.

Bassett and co-author, Ewart, compiled a dataset of nearly 100 characters with eating disorders in TV and movies since the 1980s and then compared their demographics to national statistics on eating disorder prevalence. 

“Eating disorders have an image problem,” says Bassett. “Media representation does not accurately reflect the population of people with eating disorders. As a result, underrepresented groups are less likely to seek treatment and treatment is less likely to meet their specific needs.”

“This is critically important as eating disorders have skyrocketed during COVID.” And, Bassett adds, “Once in place, eating disorders are hard to shake.”

Having recovered from an eating disorder herself, Bassett brings both a personal and an analytical perspective to the issue. She is available to discuss the results of her study, how healthcare providers and policymakers could better identify and support those suffering from eating disorders, what media depictions would be helpful to correct the image problem.