Born Survivors – My 22 Stone Dad And Skinny Me

by Lisa McGarry

Born Survivors returns to BBC Three with a new series of hard-hitting and inspiring TV documentaries in which young people forced to live with serious issues reveal their strategies for survival. The documentaries, which tackle the subjects of young motherhood, eating disorders and under-age drinking, tell the extraordinary stories of young people surviving whatever life throws at them and gives them a unique opportunity to talk candidly about their experiences and determination to change their lives.

In this second episode, Emma is 15 years old, 5ft 7 inches and weighs just seven and a half stone. In 12 months, she’s lost 14lbs. Six months ago, Emma admitted that she’d stopped eating and she blamed her dad, Grant.

Weighing in at 22-and-a-half stone, Grant is clinically obese. Discovering that his own weight was at the root of his only daughter’s illness was devastating for him.

An eating disorder is a complex mental illness and, despite the fact that one in 20 young women in the UK will develop an eating disorder, getting professional help is not always easy. Fortunately, living in Lancaster means Emma can be referred to EDN (Eating Disorders Network), the area’s only eating disorders charity.

In weekly sessions, counsellor Sue Hind will help Emma reach a safe weight of eight-and-a-half stone. In order to help his daughter’s recovery, Grant has also signed up for therapy, too. He’s tried lots of diets before and they’ve always failed. This time, with the help of counsellor Sue Gardner, he’s going to tackle his obesity once and for all.

In addition to the weekly one-to-one sessions, the family will also get together with both therapists for fortnightly family therapy. It’s an opportunity to bring to the table things they find hard to talk about when they’re alone at home.

Over the course of six months, the programme follows Emma as she attempts to get to her goal weight. In order to help his daughter towards recovery, Grant works hard to shed five-and-a-half stone. Observing the family dynamic, by talking to Emma, her parents and her boyfriend, My 22 Stone Dad And Skinny Me attempts to understand the growing danger of eating disorders amongst teenagers.

Monday 19 January
10.30-11.30pm BBC THREE

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