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Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

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Pink’s New Video :: Hope or Harm?

January 26, 2011 24 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

pink With tunes as catchy as they are compelling, P!nk has always brought an smart and powerful female presence to the airways. Her songs often send a message of strength and empowerment, particularly to the young fans that can identify with her history of being an undervalued outcast.

Since her latest music video, “F**kin’ Perfect”, was released last week, Pink has faced some scrutiny for the graphic depictions of bullying, implied eating disorders, and self-harm. [You can view the video here, but please be aware that the imagery may be triggering for some.]

In the video, Napoleon Dynamite star Tina Marjorino plays a young woman reflecting on years of torment and abuse, perpetrated both by others and herself. The piece depicts the woman using behaviors such as extreme dieting and cutting in an apparent attempt to manage the intense feelings of hurt. sadness, and anger that she is experiencing.

I imagine that many among us can relate to the intense pain conveyed in this video. In the eating disorder community, many individuals have already expressed how profoundly they are able to connect with the experiences portrayed. And even among those who have never engaged in self-harm or other behaviors, the video elicits a sense of relatedness based on the anguish that can be caused by being rejected.

But could the imagery in the video hit too close to home for some?

Some members of the mental health community, as well as concerned parents and advocates, have expressed feeling that Pink’s video goes too far. They report concern that the images could be triggering and upsetting for individuals who struggle with these behaviors or could even glamorize them. Indeed, the character in the video experiences an ending that does not suggest the difficult of the potential repercussions of behaviors like cutting and eating disorders, which include serious injury and even death.

Many who have seen the video, however, report feeling a sense of hope. And in fact, Pink reports that a sense of connectedness was her goal in creating the video. She says on her website, “I don’t support or encourage suicide or cutting. I support the kids out there that feel so desperate/numb/powerless, that feel unseen and unheard, and can’t see another way. I want them to know I’m aware. I have been there. I see them. Sometimes that’s all it takes.”

So does creating awareness and potentially connection among those struggling outweigh the potential risk of upsetting and triggering others who are also struggling? Is all publicity good publicity?

These are the tough questions that must be asked when media images are created. There are no easy answers and we are bound to have opinions as varied as each of us. We face this issues much more often than we might think.

Consider the recently deceased Isabella Caro’s anti-anorexia campaign. While the young model was attempting to send a message about the dangerousness of an eating disorder – and may have been effective in steering some vulnerable individuals away from this life – the campaign may also have been extremely triggering to those in the throws of the disorder.

Or what about body image and eating disorder blogs that present stories of individuals at their most ill? Anecdotally, I know that many of the individuals I work with will tell me later in their recovery that during their most vulnerable, these stories did nothing but fuel their disorder, despite a happy ending for the writer. But still others report that these stories offer them a sense of hope – that no matter how severe the problem, recovery is possible.

To me, the important point is that we consider the questions – that we take time to examine the potential implications of what we write, do, say, and create. There is nothing more powerful than a critical mind and a thoughtful consumer.

What are your reactions to Pink’s “F**kin’ Perfect” video? Does the power of the message override images that could upset some people?

NTS-Medium

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23 Comments

  1. Kelly
    3 years ago

    I can only talk about my view of the video, but I see this video as a good thing. When I saw this, I thought of the hope it might offer someone already experiencing these behaviors and actions. So many people feel alone when experiencing these feelings addressed in the video and knowing you’re not alone could lead a person to get help, to talk about their problems. I didn’t see these unhealthy behaviors being glamorized or see the video as something that would push someone over the edge to engage in these behaviors. I have mixed feelings on “triggering images”. To some degree I think most media images can be triggering. We have to ask ourselves if the potential triggering of an image (one of millions of images) outweighs the importance of the message? However, I don’t know if you could ever truly answer that question.
    Kelly recently posted..Discomfort is relative

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      3 years ago

      I agree that this would be a really difficult question to answer – namely because what is triggering to one may not be too another. I’m glad that you had a positive experience of the video!

      Reply

  2. Kat
    3 years ago

    I think at the very least the video is starting to open up a discussion about things that are only talked about on the surface a lot of the time.
    Kat recently posted..never lose it

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      3 years ago

      That is a very positive aspect of media like this that takes things like self-harm and eating disorders that have been clouded in secrecy and shame and puts them out in the open – I do think it helps people suffering feel connected and not as different.

      Reply

  3. JourneyBeyondSurvival
    3 years ago

    It seems difficult to be able to distinguish between the two needs. The community dealing with the disorder that needs constructive support, and the people wanting to understand but don’t comprehend the depth of the problem. The first need to hear healthy and proactive steps away from the disease. The second want a dissected view so they can examine the problem.

    There needs to be a healthy construct where the wider community respects the seriousness of the problem. But we also need to educate the warriors battling the issues, that like alcoholics, they need to avoid triggering situations. It’s going to take a while.
    JourneyBeyondSurvival recently posted..Whatever I Want

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    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      3 years ago

      Great point! There are definitely competing needs here and I think it’s hard to meet both of them simultaneously. I agree there needs to be a healthy construct developed as well.

      Reply

  4. Alex @ Healing Beauty
    3 years ago

    From the minute I heard this song, it resonated very deeply with me. I’m in recovery for an eating disorder as well as self-harm and thankfully I am at the point in my recovery where I see this as a powerful message against such destructive and harmful behavior towards oneself. While I can see how it could upset some, I think that is the nature of art, whether it be writing, music, visual media, etc. Responsible readership and viewership is crucial, and had this song come out when I was in the deepest and darkest parts of my illness, perhaps my point of view may have been different, it’s hard to say. However, I am personally very glad to see P!nk create such a raw and emotional song and video, and as someone who has been through some very dark times, I hear this song and think of it as my own little recovery anthem. Thank you Ashley for such a wonderful and thoughtful post! I appreciate your writing and insight very much.
    Alex @ Healing Beauty recently posted..When you are feeling anxious- remember…

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  5. Katie @ Health for the Whole Self
    3 years ago

    I agree with you that there is no clear answer, and you’ve outlined the different sides of the question very well. I think it greatly depends on where the individual viewer is in his/her recovery. For example, when I was just becoming aware of my problems with binge eating, reading Geneen Roth’s very specific descriptions of her own struggles was like a shining light in the darkness. Knowing that other people struggled in the exact same way that I did and yet had overcome many of their difficulties was nothing short of uplifting. But now that I am so much farther along in my recovery, I find specific accounts of bingeing to be rather troubling and triggering.

    So perhaps videos like this one and other specific accounts of struggling are useful in the beginning stages, when we’re desperate to know we’re not alone and that someone truly understands. But later on, when we’re farther away from our symptoms, seeing such graphic depictions of them can be more harmful than helpful.

    In that sense, then, I lean toward the side of personal responsibility. I’m glad these media depictions are out there for those who need them, but for me it’s usually better to stay away from them.
    Katie @ Health for the Whole Self recently posted..Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti

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  6. Andrea Owen
    3 years ago

    Great post! The thing is, there are SO MANY things on a daily basis that can be “triggering or upsetting”. Open up any magazine, any movie, TV show, commercial, so much of the media is loaded with what helped many people stay in their illness. When something like this comes along, I stand up and applaud. Thank you, Pink, for showing what real feelings are for so many girls.
    I think there are still so many people, including parents and maybe even some advocates that are afraid to look at shame in the face. It hurts. It’s uncomfortable. But, I would much rather be triggered by this, than by images in magazines that have been photoshopped. In my humble opinion, it’s better to see and learn from something that shows feelings and emotions, rather than just images that show emptiness. The mentality of shoving it all under the rug is helpful to no one and can just perpetuate denial.
    The message that stuck with me, was at the end, when the girl grows up and looks at her own daughter. it’s clear that she wants to pave a different way for her daughter than the one she had. This to me is so important, as one of my biggest wishes for my own daughter is to feel free to be herself, no matter if she wants blue hair, to dress different, or “be different” than the “norm”.
    Andrea Owen recently posted..Crash and Burn

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  7. Dana Udall-Weiner
    3 years ago

    Great questions, Ashley. This is such a tough issue, and it reflects the bigger question of life imitating art or vice versa. I think about this as a blogger, too. What is my responsibility to my readers? Can I talk about my own struggles in an honest way, or should I disclose only certain, general issues, for fear of triggering others or encouraging the exact behaviors I wish to prevent? Pink is very powerful, so she has the potential to do great harm or good. I look forward to watching the video (after my daughters are in bed!) so that I can form a more informed opinion.
    Dana Udall-Weiner recently posted..Amy Chua Might Be Doing You a Favor and the Real Scoop on Why She’s So Offensive

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  8. Rose
    3 years ago

    In short: I support the video.
    Are parts of it triggering? Yes. However, I believe the benefit outweighs the harm. I have recently left treatment and am feeling very alone. When things come across that I can connect to and make me feel not as alone, such as Pink’s new video, I cling to its preciousness.
    Also, this can open a new channel for self-expression. If people relate to lyrics, photos, drawings, etc. then they can choose to drown themselves in those healthier coping skills, even if the expression that comes through it is very dark. Superchick has a song called Courage. The song itself is so real when reflecting eating disorders. It is something that I can relate and captured a part of everything. Still though, there are those who will turn it into something very negative. It is up to each individual to challenge themselves when they desire using materials in triggering ways. Of course, some people are too consumed in their disorder to do so. Should we censor every possible triggering thing? No because then new things will become triggering. Does this mean we should not sensor anything? No! When censoring materials, benefit versus harm must be weighed.
    On that note, I feel like Pink’s music is about me half the time. I admire her and how far she has come. I would love to meet her one day!

    Reply

    • Barbara
      3 years ago

      I agree with you 100%! It makes things so much easier when somebody describes how you feel,especially when you know that they’ve bee there before too.

      Reply

  9. Kate @ Walking in the Rain
    3 years ago

    I’m a fan of Pink, and I’ll be downloading this song to listen to whenever the mood strikes me. I didn’t find the video triggering but I hate blood so I was cringing through the whole bathroom scene.

    What strikes me about this song is how Pink is one of the few popular artists who could perform this song and have it not feel phony. She had a difficult childhood, and has been self-effacing in her music, so this song feels more of a “I’ve been there and it’s hard. But, I’ve made it through by being true to myself and you’ll be ok too.”

    As for the triggering images, I’m not sure how those events could be portrayed and have them not be as triggering. I also can’t see how the video could still keep its strong message by sugar coating those events. I do wish there was some sort of “intervention” after the bathtub where the actress is seen talking to her mom or maybe an art teacher so there is a message of “its ok to talk to someone about what is going on.”

    Reply

  10. Jenn Sternecker
    3 years ago

    I love this song and this video! Maybe it’s because I’m in a better place of recovery then I have been in the past, I don’t know, but it does not trigger me. In fact, I see hope in it. The video is one of truth. It shows the struggle, the hurt, the pain, but through all that, the words tell us that we are still perfect just the way we are. There was a time when I would have turned off the radio the second I heard those words. THey seemed to mock me. But now they give me hope and strength and the video merely gives an image to it.

    Reply

  11. Jackie
    3 years ago

    I adore Pink, but i think this video is unnecessarily graphic. It poses a strong trigger to many (though i am aware that there are also many who aren’t triggered), when the message could still have been conveyed quite powerfully without some of these scenes.

    Reply

  12. Ina
    3 years ago

    this video made people who don’t know anything about stuff like: bullying, eating disorders, and self-harm – stop and think (i don’t why people are freaking out because of that scene; i mean that gaga-thing has ‘dead bodys’ in most of her videos JUST FOR FUN and nobody gives a crap, so please) and it made the other be thankful that she cares. and she does. p!nks music got me through the last 10 years of my life, i did not cut or anything like this but ‘life’ as i knew it sucked. and i was following her message through the years; and it helped me. she helped me.

    Reply

  13. Barbara
    3 years ago

    First of all, the question in the article is posed: ” Is all publicity good publicity?” When it comes to P!nk IT’S NOT ABOUT PUBLICITY! I can confidently say that whatever P!nk does, in relation to her music or otherwise, is purely thoughtful. I’ve been a fan of P!nk since the beginning and all of her songs and videos are so meaningful. The first time I listened to this song I cried, it hit home for me. Then, when I saw the video I cried for almost a week whenever I thought about it! To me, this is a good thing, because it shows that artists can and do connect with the real world about real issues rather than just breakups and imagery. There are millions of harcore P!nk fans around the world, along with anybody else who may just be listening to the radio, who would think “Wow, was this song written for me?” Or “I can almost see myself in this video”. I’m only 19 since 3rd January, but I’ve already had enough trauma and heartbreak in my short life to last more than two lifetimes, and I can honestly say that P!nk has saved my life more than once. Last week, my mother knew that something was bothering me but the ONLY way that I could express myself was to show her the video for “F**kin Perect” (So Thank you P!nk). P!nk makes me feel good about myself; about my image and my thoughts and feelings. She’s encouaged me to write. She’s helped me so much over the last 5 years especially. What makes this video so effective is that it’s true. P!nk has been there and now she’s showing support to her fans. I don’t know who or where I’d be without P!nk and her songs and videos like “F**kin Pefect”.

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      3 years ago

      I think it’s really amazing that the music of Pink has been so powerful and inspiring for you. I’m glad that it makes you feel great about yourself – music can be so incredibly moving in that way!

      Reply

  14. najla
    3 years ago

    Is all publicity good publicity? since you’re running a blog, try not to judge after watching this video once,not knowing shit about the performer and without knowing what it means for their fans. i’m just saying.

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      3 years ago

      Hi Ngila – Judging this video and the performer was not the intent of this post. The intent was to highlight that we should be asking questions about what we see. I personally think that Pink is a wonderful role model and hoped that I conveyed in this post that I believe this video has enormous potential to help many individuals who can relate to her and her message. I have also watched the video many times and even passed it on to others who I thought might be inspired by it.

      Reply

  15. kathleen
    3 years ago

    i absolutley admire pink. she is amazing and im sure she has saved many lives by writing this song and doing the video the way she did it.
    some people dont ‘get’ her, but she is completely genuine and heartfelt in everything she writes for her fans. she has been down the dark path and came out of it happier and stronger then ever, and this song and video gives hope to everyone that they can conquer their demons too. love you pink, thankyou for being one of a kind.

    Reply

  16. Debra Cohen
    2 years ago

    But we also need to educate the warriors battling the issues, that like alcoholics, they need to avoid triggering situations. What strikes me about this song is how Pink is one of the few popular artists who could perform this song and have it not feel phony.
    Debra Cohen recently posted..Cancer Tattoos Tumblr

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  17. Leta Barlow
    2 years ago

    Superchick has a song called Courage. I appreciate your writing and insight very much. I also can’t see how the video could still keep its strong message by sugar coating those events. Thank you, Pink, for showing what real feelings are for so many girls.
    Leta Barlow recently posted..Swiffer Mops

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