Created By: josephripken on May 28, 2011 Last Edited By: josephripken on June 11, 2011

Body Image Panic

Characters discover that the media makes us all feel fat.

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Trope
An episode where one or more characters panic about their body image. This can take many forms, from being slightly depressed to having an all out eating disorder. This usually results in them learning something about the way the media influences our perception of beauty.

Note that this kind of episode will almost always be about a girl coming to grip with her body image while ignoring that boys have the same issues.

A subtrope of Very Special Episode.


Examples

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[[folder:Females]]

Anime and Manga
  • In an episode of Mama Is a Fourth-Grader, several of the girls in the class (including the protagonist) get convinced they're "too fat" and go on crash diets with predictably disastrous results. The School Nurse gives them a lecture, and the protagonist is convinced by the argument that undernourished women won't have healthy babies.

Live Action TV
  • Naturally spoofed in Strangers With Candy, in an episode where Jerri becomes anorexic. It probably didn't help that her debate team coach specifically told her to lose weight (while cooking food) and all of the characters were treating her like she was fat, including the current #1 radio hit.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Males]]

Western Animation
  • In a Very Special Episode of American Dad Stan develops anorexia.
  • Subverted and played for laughs in an episode of Flight of the Concordes. Everyone thinks that Brett is bulimic, while he frequently assures them he isn't.
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[[folder:Both]]

Live-Action TV
  • Student Bodies had an episode where one of the female protagonists described feeling insecure because of the media. One of the male protagonists says he feels the same way and the females make him feel better.
[[/folder]]

Up for grabs
Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • May 28, 2011
    Aielyn
    Needs A Better Description

    So, just to see if I have it straight... this trope is about body-image-centric storylines, especially in teen dramas, always being focused only on the girls, with the boys not suffering from body image problems. And this is notable because males are also susceptible to such problems. Right?
  • May 28, 2011
    HieronymusII
    A Running Gag about Gabe on Penny Arcade. [1]. [2]. Sort of a Zig Zagging Trope - the comics show Gabe hysterical about being Hollywood Pudgy, but in the newsposts it's "explained" that actually he's too skinny. Gabe finds this bizarre for two reasons - that being skinny is a problem or that gamers ever had a shred of self esteem to tear down.

  • May 28, 2011
    Jordan
    Why are you assuming that having an episode/story line focusing on a female character having a body image problem means that work is assuming males don't have that problem?

    Cant you just call the trope Body Image Problem or something like that and list examples of that?
  • May 28, 2011
    Hadashi
    Subverted in real life. Boys do have a strong self image but it is mainly to do with more abstract ideals. Boys do suffer from anorexia too, more than you might think.
  • May 28, 2011
    Chabal2
    Very present in Dave Barry's work. A (paraphrased) example: a man can have four hairs combed over like a giant spider clutching an egg and a belly like a mutant one-eyed walrus trying to escape his pants, and still think of himself as God's gift to women. Whereas a woman can spend hours on makeup and clothes and still see Chewbacca in her mirror.
  • May 28, 2011
    TwinBird
    I think we need to pin down what this actually is. Excessive focus on girls' body images as compared to boys'? If so, caution is key, or it'll turn into a whiny list of shows that had a body-image arc for a girl but not for a boy. Aversions? If so, we really ought to have the aversion as the trope, with a note that it's rarer than body image arcs for girls, rather than describing it like this.

    ...actually, do we have a trope for girls' body image arcs? If not, we probably should.
  • May 28, 2011
    batgirl1
    Considering that it's usually ridiculously hard to prove an absence of something, we should probably have an aversions/subversions lists. Either that, or examples where it's explicitly stated that guys just don't care (like the Dave Barry example). Maybe both?

    Also: Bigorexia.
  • May 28, 2011
    HieronymusII
    Ah, but it would be proved by this very page. Compile a list of body image special episodes - huh, they are all about girls. That's the power of Wiki Magic.
  • May 28, 2011
    josephripken
    @Aielyn. Exactly. Its about shows focusing on female body image issues while completely ignoring that men have the same issues.

    @Jordan. By only addressing female body image issues and never bothering to mention males issues, they are implicitly saying that males don't have said issues. Same principle as [1].

    Looking into it more, the default episode with a girl dealing with this doesn't seem to be a trope yet. Maybe the best thing to do would be to write that trope, not in it that the male version is much rarer and separate examples into about females about males and both are aknowledged. how does that sit with everybody?
  • May 29, 2011
    SKJAM
    works for me, @josephripken.

    • In an episode of Mama Is a Fourth-Grader, several of the girls in the class (including the protagonist) get convinced they're "too fat" and go on crash diets with predictably disastrous results. The School Nurse gives them a lecture, and the protagonist is convinced by the argument that undernourished women won't have healthy babies.
  • May 29, 2011
    Jordan
    @josephrikpken- that suggestion sounds like a good one
  • May 29, 2011
    josephripken
    I've typed up a new description. Still need examples, but other than that is this better??
  • May 29, 2011
    josephripken
    Also having trouble with folder. Can't find the problem. Arg.
  • May 29, 2011
    peccantis
    ^folders don't work properly in YKTTW.
  • May 29, 2011
    randomsurfer
    And to Pot Hole a single word use double braces, like this: [[{{Pothole}} This is a pothole]]. Instead of using the whole link, which the wiki sees as an external link.
  • May 30, 2011
    Ni3nk3
    Now, if I get this correctly, A Channel provides a good example of this. In one of the episodes, Nagi complains about her being too fat and starts a diet. In the end the other girls tell her she good the way she is, and she decides to call it off.
  • May 30, 2011
    FalconPain
    Naturally spoofed in Strangers With Candy, in an episode where Jerri becomes anorexic. It probably didn't help that her debate team coach specifically told her to lose weight (while cooking food) and all of the characters were treating her like she was fat, including the current #1 radio hit.
  • May 30, 2011
    SKJAM
    Mama Is A Fourth Grader is an anime show (Kid From The Future is involved.)
  • May 30, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In a Very Special Episode of American Dad Stan develops anorexia.
  • May 31, 2011
    Hadashi
    I have a link to a website (somewhere) that lets you compare photos of celebrities with their images before they were photoshopped. They look almost nothing alike. And much less robotic.
  • May 31, 2011
    josephripken
    Thanks to peccantis and randomsurfer for the formatting info.

    Thanks, SKJAM, fixed that right up.

    This is going pretty well, a few more examples and this will be ready for publication in no time.
  • May 31, 2011
    mlargles
    Panic seems a bit vague. I wasn't clear at first on what that panic was about - characters panicking that people care about body image enough to start having eating disorders or that the characters start caring themselves about how they're (unfairly and obnoxiously) perceived and getting eating disorders themselves. I guess the analogy is a bank panic? In the sense that it's a simultaneous and unexpected event? That seems off slightly though.

    Maybe we should try Body Image Epidemic (since there's a whole lot of cases that suddenly start at the same time?). That still seems weird to me, but somewhat better?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=hzf330m7yh0j1tyll3t1ofla