One of the judges of America’s Got Talent, Howie Mandel, made an insensitive joke about bulimia on the show. His comment offended many people, especially the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), who openly criticized the 59-year-old.
E! Online reported that Mandel told contestant Stevie Starr, a “professional regurgitator” (who can swallow objects and regurgitate them back up whole), “You, sir, make bulimia entertaining.”
In all fairness, the judge acknowledged that the comment “probably came out wrong,” which it certainly did. Mandel also later took a moment to apologize on the show itself. He said that he was not thinking and didn’t take into account that it was a live show.
“I made light of bulimia, which is a very serious eating disorder and mental health issue,” the father of three said. Accepting that he dealt with mental health a lot, he admitted his stupidity, saying, “I should never make light of it. I apologize to anybody that was offended. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes.”
Mandel, who has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also took to Twitter the next morning to express his regret over the issue.
Claire Mysko, COO of NEDA, spoke to The Wrap the day after the episode aired and stressed again that eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, were no laughing matters. She also implied that they should be taken as seriously as diabetes, cancer, or any other life-threatening ailment.
“We hope this is a platform to raise awareness about the seriousness of eating disorders,” she added, informing readers that these disorders could result in chronic physical illnesses and sometimes even death. Mysko went on to blame society for normalizing the phrase “one-can-never-be-too-thin.”
Kenneally, T., “Howie Mandel Blasted by Eating Disorders Group After ‘AGT’ Bulimia Wisecrack,” The Wrap web site, August 26, 2015; https://goo.gl/RjKN0M.