Does Charlie Have an Eating Disorder in Heartstopper?

Image Credit: Samuel Dore/Netflix

The second season of Netflix’s romantic seriesHeartstopper’ follows Charlie Spring’s life after getting together with Nick Nelson as a couple. Since Nick initially doesn’t come out as bisexual, they keep their relationship a secret. Still, Charlie and Nick manage to share their love and intimacy with each other, especially during their Paris study trip. During the trip, Nick notices that Charlie is barely eating his food. When he enquires about the same, his boyfriend dismisses his question without really explaining the predicament, until the latter passes out. So, does Charlie have an eating disorder? Here’s everything you need to know about the same! SPOILERS AHEAD.

Does Charlie Have an Eating Disorder?

Although Charlie doesn’t get diagnosed with one in the second season of the series, it is safe to say that he has an eating disorder. In Alice Oseman’s ‘Heartstopper’ books, which serve as the source materials of the show, Charlie is diagnosed with anorexia, “an eating disorder that causes people to weigh less than is considered healthy for their age and height, usually by excessive weight loss. People with this disorder may have an intense fear of weight gain, even when they are underweight. They may diet or exercise too much or use other ways to lose weight.”

In the source books, Charlie starts to suffer from the same upon becoming the subject of unbearable bullying and ridicule at school, especially after getting accidentally outed as gay. He begins to believe that he has no control over anything that’s happening in his life. Charlie fails to protect himself from the bullying he receives and he even has to accept getting outed, which doesn’t give him an opportunity to come out as gay at the right time. These incidents increase self-harming tendencies in Charlie, who starts to eat less to hurt himself.

Charlie starts to eat less or none when he starts to think that he wants to control something in his life. Since his food intake is something he can still control, he changes his eating habits. It doesn’t take a long while for him to get affected by anorexia, which explains why he passes out during the Paris study trip. In the ‘Heartstopper’ books, Charlie’s eating disorder gets worse as he doesn’t talk to his parents about the same thinking they will not believe him. Although he ultimately tells his parents about the disorder and seeks the help of a doctor, the long waiting list makes him relapse into self-harm.

Charlie eventually gets better after he is taken to a psychiatric hospital that focuses on providing care for people suffering from anorexia. He also starts to see a therapist named Geoffrey and gets diagnosed with anxiety, depression, anorexia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Charlie soon realizes that the roots of his misfortunes are in his unprocessed trauma. This realization helps him deal with his anorexia. In the already-announced third season of the series, we can expect Charlie’s eating disorder to be a major storyline. With the help of Nick and a therapist, he may bring his anorexia under control.

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