Zara McDermott to host new documentary about eating disorders

Zara McDermott to host new documentary about eating disorders

After documentaries about image-based sexual abuse and rape culture, Zara McDermott focuses on eating disorders for her third film project with BBC Three.

The influencer and trainer Dear islanders — who worked as a policy adviser for the Department of Education before joining the 2018 reality show — wants to raise awareness of a growing problem.

Between April and October 2021, hospital admissions of children under 17 with eating disorders in the UK rose by over 40% and experts fear social media could exacerbate the problem.

According to health organizations, an eating disorder can look different for everyone, but can include under- or overeating, excessive exercise, focusing on appearance, and anxiety around mealtimes, among others.

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While McDermott says she hasn’t experienced an eating disorder herself, she wants to use her platform (she has 1.7 million followers on Instagram) to help anyone who may have been affected.

In the film, the 25-year-old speaks to people living with eating disorders and those in recovery, and shares how she faced cruel comments about her body following her time on social media island of love

She recently realized that talking online about her weight loss journey and posting before and after photos could be a trigger for people struggling with eating disorders.

Ahead of the documentary, which airs November 22, McDermott reveals what she learned during filming, what she thinks viewers will take away and how it has changed the way she approaches social media.

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Why did you want to make a documentary about eating disorders?

“I really, really wanted to do this film because I see it every day. I’ve done one film about revenge porn, another about rape culture, but that feels like it’s kind of ingrained in each one or different.

“It just felt so contemporary and so right.”

What surprised you the most about making the film?

“I was surprised and taken back every day and learned something new. The fact that 85% of people with an eating disorder are not underweight – that was a statistic that shocked me. I think we have this idea of ​​what an eating disorder looks like, and actually it’s very different.

“Another thing that shocked me is this idea of ​​control and the fact that eating disorders often coexist with another illness like depression or anxiety — they don’t come alone.”

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What was the most moving thing for you?

“I have learned that eating disorders are extremely isolating. It’s like having someone on your shoulder trying to pull you away from everyone. And that voice tells you what you’re doing is okay.

“Until you have that experience of really sitting and listening, it’s hard to understand. And I’m just getting to grips with this.

“That’s how I see it — like a best friend and an enemy, all the time on that person’s shoulder. And it really makes you realize how isolating these diseases are — and they really are a disease.”

How has what you learned changed the way you approach social media?

“You know, I especially look back on my social media [what I was posting] a few years ago and I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ I was posting body checks and stuff like that all the time.

“I was younger and thought it was the coolest thing in the world. But actually I think it comes from age, experience and learning, and you start learning what is actually meaningful and valuable to other people.

“One thing I’ve learned is to think about when you’re posting, who you’re posting for, and why you’re posting, and go through this little mental checklist in your head.

“Am I posting this for myself because I want validation? If I do that, is that really the right thing to post? That’s the mental checklist I go through every day now.”

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What do you want to achieve with the documentary?

“Like every documentary I make, it’s about starting those conversations, talking to those around you… because we’re starting to break those stigmas and tear down those walls.

“I really hope it’s a conversation starter for parents and their kids, teachers and their students. That’s really the most important thing to me because the first step to healing, especially in our society, is talking.”

For more information visit Bodywhys.ie, phone 1890 200 444 or email alex@bodywhys.ie.

*The term revenge porn has been used to describe image-based sexual abuse, which involves posting sexually explicit footage online without the consent of the person depicted. Learn more at women help.


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