In an episode titled “Inner Beauty,” the series glosses over extreme dieting when it depicts what could easily be the beginnings of an eating disorder. It’s a struggle many people go through, often starting in the middle school years, but it should require trigger warnings when portrayed on a TV show — especially one created for pre-teens. A focus on prevailing beauty standards is pervasive in entertainment, but it’s nonetheless an incredibly problematic storyline when Miranda is suddenly struck by how she looks in a photograph taken by Gordo and goes on a crash diet to lose weight. Her friends discover this when she almost faints while rehearsing for a music video!
Dieting can be extremely triggering for viewers with eating disorders, not to mention particularly harmful subject matter for impressionable teens and tweens. As a series, “Lizzie McGuire” should never have addressed the storyline as lightly as it did. While the endgame is ultimately to highlight Miranda’s inner beauty and promote the idea that outer beauty is subjective, such sensitive storylines require far more research, careful consideration, and proper execution. Pre-teens audience members who are going through the same struggles could be negatively impacted by the episode — and no one, especially a young person whose body is still growing, should be encouraged to diet to the point of passing out.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA’s Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).