New Feature Little Miss Perfect Examines “Thinspo” Culture
With the holidays upon us, it’s time to talk about eating.
YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
But for the 20 million American women and 10 million American men who will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives, eating is not enjoyable — it’s the enemy. And in this age of social media, the spread of pro-anorexia and “thinspo” or “thinspiration” websites, images, and material only fan the flames for those at risk.
Filmmaker Marlee Roberts tackles the subject of eating disorders among one of their most favorite demographics — teenage girls — in her new indie feature film, Little Miss Perfect. Casting her younger sister, Karlee Roberts, in the starring role of Belle, Marlee explores the pressure and media inundation of body image scrutiny that young people are exposed to in their experiences online and beyond. Marlee drew on her own experience in seeing pro-eating disorder messages on social media as a teenager, and coupled this with the fairy tale character of Belle from Beauty and the Beast — a story which centers around the theme of being free only when one finds love, or–in Little Miss Perfect‘s case–self-love.
Marlee’s Belle is a high school freshman and classic overachiever in all aspects when she comes across “thinspo” material, and–triggered by her home life and all-around penchant for perfection–decides to make anorexia her newest pet project. Like she does in all things, Belle succeeds, and finds herself caught in the vortex of a serious eating disorder.
In an interview with GirlTalkHQ, Marlee comments on how she hopes Little Miss Perfect will impact the conversation around eating disorders:
Mental health, as a whole, has been stigmatized to the point where discussion about these issues seems taboo. In turn, this leads to a lot of myths and the dissemination of misinformation regarding really serious subjects like eating disorders. When I was doing research for the film, I remember being appalled to find out (at the time) according to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that to be diagnosed with Anorexia you had to have certain physiological changes to your body, such as three missed menstrual cycles.
What I then realized was that girls who haven’t hit puberty yet and men of all ages who were psychologically suffering couldn’t be diagnosed with the disorder at all, which of course is just ludicrous. Fortunately, the criteria has changed a bit in the current manual but there’s still a lot left to re-evaluate, especially in the way we perceive these illnesses in society.
Little Miss Perfect just scratches the surface of some major misconceptions with eating disorders and does so in a way that we hope is subtle and emotionally/ psychologically driven. We aren’t so much focusing on the physical effects of Anorexia as much as we are on the psychological journey of a character seeking control. We worked carefully to craft the story so that the narrative would be engaging and entertaining, relatable to all audiences in that we all seek some way to grasp control over our lives. At the same time, we still wanted to depict an honest representation of the way in which our protagonist goes about doing so.
Little Miss Perfect was released in select theaters in North America on November 18th, and is also available on iTunes.