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Shockingly, Jennette McCurdy’s mother teaches her an eating disorder when she is a child: anorexia. Later in her life, McCurdy goes through a time of binge eating. And later, a time of bulimia. Her memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died is a sad but courageously true account of these disorders from a first-person perspective.

McCurdy writes about a meal she shared with her mom in a restaurant:

“. . . the no blue cheese, no egg, no croutons, no dressing, no bacon Cobb salad—aka grilled chicken and lettuce—that we split for lunch.”

As McCurdy points out, that’s hardly a Cobb salad.

And this is one of the more indulgent meals she writes about. Some meals with her mom consist of just a few steamed vegetables.

As I was reading this account of disordered eating, I could not help but think about our larger society. McCurdy’s mom was abusive in teaching her daughter anorexia; but if her goal was to get her daughter cast as an starring actress, it was just the right move. It worked. McCurdy receives endless compliments about her sleek body.

Think of the millions of girls watching the TV show she starred in, thinking they were deficient for not looking like McCurdy. When, in fact, McCurdy was the deficient one.

What can we do about this? Can we find a way to resist—to teach ourselves and our daughters how to have a healthy relationship with food, and how to prize health over optics?