Does Charlie have an eating disorder in Heartstopper? Here's what happens in the books
4 August 2023, 15:37
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In Heartstopper season 2, Charlie appears to avoid eating and Nick begins to notice that something is wrong.
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If you're watching Heartstopper season 2, chances are that, like Nick, you're concerned that Charlie has an eating disorder.
In Heartstopper season 2, Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor) explore what it's like to be boyfriends. However, Nick is still in the closet and struggling to come out to his friends and his family. Meanwhile, Charlie is still traumatised from being bullied and his parents are concerned that his relationship with Nick is distracting him and affecting his school work.
Nick also notices that Charlie avoids eating. Does he have an eating disorder though and is it addressed at all in the books?
It's never labelled but, as Heartstopper season 2 progresses, it becomes clear that Charlie has an eating disorder. When the characters go on a trip to Paris, Nick notices that Charlie doesn't eat breakfast so he packs a croissant for him to eat if he gets hungry later. Fast forward to lunchtime and Charlie faints at the Louvre because he hasn't eaten enough food.
Nick tells Charlie that he's noticed Charlie doesn't eat as much anymore. Charlie then says: "I know I don't eat like normal people. Some days I'm fine and other days I control it. I used to do it a lot last year when everything at school was really bad. Sometimes it feels like the only thing I can control in my life."
Nick makes clear that he's there for Charlie and wants Charlie to come to him when he's feeling depressed. Charlie says that he will speak to Nick in future but later in the series Charlie has dinner at Nick's house and Nick's mum notices that Charlie doesn't touch his food and tells Nick. Nick then starts researching eating disorders on the internet.
However, when Charlie and Nick are preparing for prom the following day, Nick realises that Charlie is lying to him about eating. At the end of the season, Charlie tells Nick that the bullying was so bad that he started self-harming. Nick then consoles Charlie and they cry in each other's arms.
We imagine that season 3 will explore Charlie's eating disorder in further depth.
WARNING: HEARTSTOPPER BOOK SPOILERS BELOW
Does Charlie have an eating disorder in the Heartstopper books?
The storyline about Charlie's eating disorder is taken directly from Alice Oseman's graphic novels that the show is based on. Season 2 is based on Heartstopper: Volume 3 and many of the scenes about Charlie's eating disorder, like the incident at the Louvre, also take place in the books.
In Heartstopper: Volume 4, Charlie's eating disorder gets worse but Nick helps Charlie tell his parents about the problem. Charlie is then put on a waiting list to see a doctor but it takes so long that he begins self-harming again.
Charlie is then taken to a psychiatric hospital where he begins meeting with a therapist named Geoffrey. In his meetings, Geoffrey diagnoses Charlie with anorexia, anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Charlie manages to get his anorexia under control, but he later develops body dysmorphia. He begins wearing baggy clothes to hide his body and becomes scared that Nick will be disgusted by him.
It seems likely that future Heartstopper books will explore Charlie's journey with his body in further depth.
Read more about Heartstopper here:
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- Heartstopper's Joe Locke wants to play Disney's first gay prince
- Heartstopper’s Kit Connor calls out trolls for forcing him to come out as bisexual
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