Eating Disorders and the Media: Brandy Suffered From an Eating Disorder
Back in the 90s Brandy Norwood (better known simply as Brandy) appeared to be on top of the world. She had hit records and was the star of her own sitcom, UPN’s Moesha. Though the show was instrumental in promoting Brandy’s R&B music career, it also placed her in front of millions of viewers each week, making her one of the most recognizable teenagers in the world. The pressure to look thin mounted, as Brandy recently revealed in an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music.
During Brandy’s tenure on Moesha she learned a hurtful lesson: when you are a teen celebrity, the public expects you to look thin at all times. The pressure to conform to the media’s perception of perfection led Brandy to drastic measures that are familiar to many young women.
“I wanted to be so thin.” the singer revealed. “So I started not taking care of myself — not eating properly, not eating at all, diet pills, regurgitating, and all those things that girls do.”
The fact that Brandy sees eating disordered behavior as “those things that girls do” is saddening, but it also speaks to our culture. It is far too common for young women to feel pressured into adopting extreme measures in order to fit into the mold of a skinny teenager.
Though Brandy is a mother now and—barring her recent new duet with Monica—she has largely retreated from the spotlight, the singer and actresses’ candor on Behind the music will hopefully raise awareness to the fact that no young women are immune to eating disorders, even if they are celebrities.
“People don’t understand that being the hottest star or making the most money does not mean anything.”
It would be nice if we could look back upon the waif-thin ideal of beauty, prevalent in the late nineties as gruesomely outdated. However, models are still as thin as always and often made to look even thinner with computer graphics. Perhaps celebrities like Brandy and Demi Lovato revealing that they had an eating disorder will help young women realize the price that many teen idols pay to appear “perfect”.
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