Teenage Casey Powell secretly suffers from anorexia nervosa, a mental and physical illness of deliberately starving herself or making herself vomit, because of her troubled home life and ... See full summary »
Eva Marie Saint,
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Dawn Cottrell (Peterson) seems like a typical sixteen-year-old girl, but she has a very dangerous secret. Unable to express her true feelings, whenever Dawn is upset she grabs a knife and cuts herself.
Let me say that this was one of the most visible TV movies to focus on 'closeted bulimia'. In this made for TV film, you have what seems to be the perfectly wonderfully "looking" wife who kept her secret of binging, exercising and purging until her body could not take it anymore - then her secret was out.
At the time this movie was aired, I didn't care to see it - I thought it was just another one of those overblown melodramatic features about selfish folks and their selfish chase after materialism. I thought I'd never meet any folks like this. But time has a way of exposing you to the truth.
Around the very same time this movie came out, after my graduation from college, I hadn't a lot of money from my new job so I had to live in an apartment building that catered to young working month to month people. We all discovered each other - and there I met a woman who every man was falling over. She was pretty, erotic, skinny. Everywhere she went men fell all over her. She was the kind of woman who could buy a man's undershirt and put it on (without underwear, mind you!)and make it look like a dress. She made me, who was of regular height and the right weight for my height feel really, really, fat. I went out to dinner on several occasions with my new friend. And she could put away the food! I thought "Wow!" and here I am...watching what I eat and I still don't look like this. What was her secret? By accident, I found out. She would buy BOTTLES of Senecot and take them promptly after each meal. When I confronted her about this her answer: "It's okay. My mom taught me how to do this. I need to look like this or men wont come near me - just like they don't come near you." At that time, I knew I could not talk any sense into her and just a few weeks after I discovered her secret, she moved away from the building.
Years later I actually sat down and watched this program - then and only then could I identify with each and every character. Especially during the group session scenes where the heaviest woman there said, "You all are afraid of looking like me." And another scene where this character's husband wascommenting on how one of the women makes $1,000 an hour and she couldn't because she was "a fat slob." That hit home. Hits home for many women. And because there was so much pressure on looking great to be on the arm of some guy, women DO go through horrible things just to be a "doll"/"trophy" figure, instead of men (and women) just loving people the way they are -- AND letting them know just that.
Did I say ... was? That this the beauty of this film. Done in 1986, it's 2006 and nothing has really changed. The same old ideals that put these characters in the position they're in, has only gotten worse. The difference is that there are tons of diet (oh forgive me for writing 'diet', I mean 'weight loss') pills and products consistently shoved down the faces of women. (I mean, the other day when they showed this film on Lifetime TV network, every other commercial was on weight-loss!!! SHAME ON YOU!!!) There is nothing wrong with looking or feeling good. There is nothing wrong with controlling and maintaining a healthy weight. But Bullemia (and anorexia) distorts that view, that though process. Add in media messages, female celebrities that are rails but look great in designer dresses at award events, music messages that constantly degrade women, personal family issues -- what can women do?!?! Closeted Bullemia has not gone away. Women are not feeling better about themselves and sadly 20 years later, nothing has been done to help - only hurt the situation.
"Kate's Secret" is a good film, and a nice place to start to show to every man and woman to begin the understanding of what many women feel they must go through just to be accepted in this society. But even in showing a film like this, there are going to be, women who were young once like me, who may not fully understand or have compassion for what is in the film - until it gets close to you.
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