I said I would go into more detail at some point about why I think anorexia is, in particular, the ‘flagship’ eating disorder.
And then I made a lemon drizzle cake and forgot. So here we are – back on track (minus the lemon drizzle cake nom nom nom).
Now, to recap see here www.amygodfrey.com/page/2/ but the two major points we could take away from that post that are particularly relevant to this one are as follows:
a) being a fat person trying and failing to diet is almost indistinguishable from having compulsive/binge eating disorder
b) as a nation of people trying and failing to diet we are displaying and encouraging the symptoms of CE (compulsive eating) and BED (binge eating disorder) and one of the main reasons why anorexia is big news, despite being the least prevalent eating disorder, is because it the only one that stands out against a backdrop of CE/BED.
Marvellous. Hope you’re still with me so far.
I just want to point out again here that I am not knocking eating disorders of any sort. Previous experience, especially doing the Biscuit Chronicles, has shown me that people get up in arms about eating disorders very quickly, without actually listening to what I’m saying long enough to hear that I’m not mocking eating disorders; I’m talking about the way society views them illustrating how messed up society is. And saying that although we may hear more about, and feel more shocked by anorexia and bulimia, they are not more important than compulsive eating and BED and should not be treated as ‘more special’. I think. Maybe I’m biased as someone who clearly suffers from CE and not AN.
Now – right there – I resisted the urge to finish off that sentence by saying something like ‘dammit’ jokingly implying that I would rather have AN than CE. I didn’t write that because obviously I don’t want to be suffering from one of the most fatal mental health disorders known to the human race. However, it illustrates my point number one.
1) Anorexia and bulimia come in for this totally messed up awe and admiration and as much as we might deny it as it’s well not PC, it’s inevitable in a society that venerates thinness to such a degree. These people manage to do what we, the nation of failed dieters, cannot do (and let’s just put aside for a minute lost fertility, more body hair and likely death). See here for how far we’ve screwed up our own instincts http://www.foxnews.com/health/2010/08/13/skinny-sex-women-lose-weight-survey-finds/
2) Anorexia, in particular, is a shocking disease, and a sufferer looks like they’re suffering – frail, deathly pale and hollow eyed, it’s a frightening sight. Whereas a bulimic may look quite normal – HOWEVER, it is very shocking that they would go to the extreme of purging so dramatically so we’re still ratcheting up the ol’ shock factor. On the other hand a CE or BED sufferer likely just looks a bit cuddly. It pretty much blows the suffering ideal out of the water there. Not good for ‘wow factor’.
3) We might as well take into account the associations we have with thinness and fatness in general. Our religious past has coloured our view of fat and thin – gluttony after all, is a sin! Fasting and religion have always gone hand in hand, with abstinence (not only food… all bodily pleasures, oh the evil of sex!) being a show of piety and pureness. By implication fatness and indulging are bad/evil/not pious. We can look at the good old dualism in religion (mind and body being separate entities, with many folks such as Descartes suggesting mind over matter being the best option what with mind being superior and body base and earthbound. This leads on to Susan Bordo’s feminist theories about such mind/body dualism leading to anorexia as an attempt to realise the whole mind over matter thang but it’s too complicated for me, you get the general gist) which instils the idea that flesh is inferior and too much of it is bad whereas as conquering it is good. Much as we may not be very religious any more, the implicit meaning remains ingrained. Also, people go on hunger strike for noble causes but nobody goes on binge strike. Admittedly binging in prison etc is difficult and it may take you years to do yourself in but, primarily, it just doesn’t carry that noble, self-sacrificing kudos.
4) Finally, it may seem muchly related to point 1) which it is but, if you think about it, AN sufferers and CE sufferers both have the same aim – to stop eating and/or lose weight. But whereas as the AN sufferer is fatally successful, the CE sufferer is fatally unsuccessful. I think there is a success/failure boundary going on here. Thin is associated with success anyway but in terms of AN vs CE, the anorexia sufferer nails it where the CE sufferer goes belly up – literally. Also, having just made a cruel joke about CE sufferers, I realise that it’s still ok to laugh at a CE sufferer because they’re fat but not ok to laugh about anorexics.
Sooo…. there we are. Eating disorders of all kinds are dangerous and if the government is right about obesity being as dangerous as it says it is and if I’m right about all fat people failing to diet being CE sufferers then CE could be the biggest killer in the UK before long, costing the NHS however many billions every year. I say protect yourself now! Be a safety girl, like me…
I have to go and let the hens out and feed them. I don’t think they have any food related issues or self-esteem problems. They eat dead mice. They ate yoghurt off my welly yesterday. Mmmmm….