Over at Future Shipwreck, Graham Kolbeins has created a video — using footage from the first three seasons of ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars — titled "Food Horror."
In the first season of the show, Ashley Benson's character, Hannah, has flashbacks to an eating-disordered past, and an anonymous bully ("A") tries to force her to return to bulimia. But in addition to that overtly food-oriented storyline, in this compilation, you realize that almost every character has some kind of incidental weird eating scene.
In Food Horror, I set out to examine the many moments in Pretty Little Liars’ first three seasons that stigmatize food, whether it’s presented with a feeling of unease, danger, or overt rejection. Aside from the 16 minutes of “food horror” I’ve compiled above, there are a countless dining scenes where food is conspicuously absent—often supplanted by the girls’ favorite diuretic, coffee. Sometimes they simply sit in front of a plate of prop salad and ignore it.
On the one hand, it's kind of funny to see scenes sliced up and arranged into nonsense, leaving only a stream of shots in which dramatic music plays as the characters are being really weird about food. But it stops being funny when you consider the PLL audience: Overwhelmingly female, with a core demo aged 12-17. In fact, 58% of the people who watch the show are under 34. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
As Kolbeins writes:
It’s important to consider cultural messaging about health, body image and beauty embedded within entertainment targeting young girls. In 2012, Internet outrage lead social networks like Tumblr and Pinterest to adopt policies censoring individuals with eating disorders from sharing “thinspiration” tips. Silencing these organic online communities is an easy way to feel like we’re addressing eating disorders, but it does nothing to fix the systemic problems that allow body shame to permeate for-profit entertainment products aimed at women.