Weighing in on the Anorexia/Model Debate

I have hemmed and hawed about whether or not to get up on my soapbox about this one: the recent deaths of models from anorexia. Certainly, they are tragic. No doubt about it.

Yet there are two aspects to this debtate:
1) Do ultra-thin models cause eating disorders?
2) What do ultra-thin models say about our society?

The answer to the first one is (fairly) obvious: no model or industry or whatever can cause an eating disorder. Flat-out. Wonderful research has been demonstrating the genetic link in both anorexia and bulimia. However, people don't pop out of the womb restricting their food intake or binge eating and purging. There is always an environmental factor in any sort of disorder. Remember that whole Nature vs. Nurture debate from high school biology? Same thing here. I don't think that the models are at fault. It's the notion that looking like that (bones popping out everywhere) is healthy. It's combining those images with the obesity fears promulgated in schools everywhere. There has to be a middle ground.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that in kids all across the US and elsewhere who are told to be frightened about becoming fat, they start worrying and are told to restrict their food. Or to eat "healthy." Or exercise more. If you're hardwired for anorexia or bulimia...well, you get the point.

This basically brings me to the second point: what are models, well, modeling? That this is how women should aspire to look? Hate to break it to ya Calvin Klein, but most women don't have a chance. I'm 5'5" and I have to wear pants that are proportioned short. That's not quite right, considering the average American woman is 5'4". When young, impressionable children and adolescents (hell, young adults and women) see magazine images, it's easy to be lured into the idea that this is "normal." Or in being deluded into the idea that the latest Hollywood starlet's diet is healthy.

No go, kiddies. No go.

I never read fashion magazines. I never followed gossip columns and the like. But if you read pretty much anything these days, every bulge on your body is God forbid a reason for anxiety. Don't eat 80 servings of broccoli a day? Sorry buddy- you're screwed. Ditto for not spending every spare minute at the gym. So in college, what with the Freshman 15 paranoia going around, I decided to skip desserts and start exercising.

Whooops! Someone forgot to tell me where that might end up.

I don't blame anyone or anything for my anorexia- just my DNA. But there are other factors affecting eating disorders, and we'd be blind to overlook them.

(I was going to say that was just my 2 cents, but considering the length and the rate of inflation, that's got to be at least a couple of bucks.)

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've just started reading your blog (from the very beginning - I have a lot of spare time) and already I love your attitude and writing style.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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