By On January 18th, 2011

Black Swan: Pornography or Reality?

The recent release of the film Black Swan has thrown audiences and critics into an uproar; its dark insights into the world of eating disorders are frightening. The film stars actors Natalie Portman (prima ballerina and Swan Queen) and Mila Kunis (Lily), both of which were petite before their roles in the film yet lost an additional 20 pounds each in preparation for their parts. The actresses spoke of the months it took to achieve the unnatural weigh-in for the film and the mere days it took to gain the weight back after filming.

Many critics are calling Black Swan “eating disorder porn.” The movie’s portrayal of the benefits of being thin in the world of professional dance has already inspired a “Black Swan Diet” and “Black Swan Workout.” However, defenders of the film say that the movie is not promoting eating disorders but simply displaying the reality of what is expected on the center stage of ballerinas.

In my opinion, both the media at large and the celebrities that play these roles encourage cultural acceptance of eating disorders, even making them seem trendy. As a society, we need to address the fine line between media portrayal and promotion. Young girls who idealize unnaturally thin actresses torture themselves by not accepting who they are or what they look like.

Regardless of one’s stand on the subject, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disease due to under identification and subsequent absence of treatment. Unless we take the reins and spread awareness about this tyrant and the media’s role, this trend is likely to continue.

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