Dying to be Thin

I've seen this headline quite a bit when journalists talk about eating disorders. Being a journalist myself (somewhat), I know the lure of a snappy title. Like the article I managed to write about the new choir director with an eye patch after he was in a motorcycle accident...and I spoke of his "new vision." Yeah. Good going there, Carrie. (Jane...this should make you feel better...AND making it into two blogs this week!) A headline is big, folks. It will make people read your story- or run fleeing.

I'm not saying that all articles titled, "Dying to be Thin" are bad or negative or any of that because I haven't read them all, nor do I think a bad title indicates a bad article. No more than a good title indicates a good article.

What I have issue with is the whole dying to be thin concept in general. When I was severely anorexic, I was dying all right. Not to be thin. Not to be anything. Just...dying. Of starvation. A very slow, miserable way to die. I was not doing this so that I could be thin. That's bullshit. It was a thing to latch onto, a way to explain the inexplicable. Why else would I starve myself? It wouldn't be as mundane as something as a phobia of food.

Or would it?

That's what it was, though. When someone who is scared of flying avoids planes, even a Medevac flight, we don't say that they're "Dying to stay on the ground." No. They're scared of heights/flying/whatever. When I had bad OCD in high school and was terrified of germs and AIDS, I wasn't dying to be clean- even though I almost attempted suicide because I didn't know what was happening and was so miserable.

I never wanted to be thin, really. I liked the idea, and it's intoxicating because most women in our society wants to be thin. I thought if I ate healthy and got rid of my tummy, then I would be happy, then things would be okay. I wanted to have the "perfect" diet and exercise routine. I wanted to feel comfortable.

Lo and behold...it worked. The first five pounds, anyway.

That's the thing with obsessions and compulsions. Your brain gets used to it, like an addict develops tolerance for a drug. Then it takes even more (compulsions, hooch, crack, heroin, you name it) to quell that horrific anxiety. And then, no matter how much you do or how little you eat, it isn't enough. Which is when it happens- the only conceivable thing you can identify as what's happening is that you're dying to be thin.


I was dying to avoid food, to avoid my horrific fears. Of course they didn't make sense. Who in their right mind would be afraid of food? Would call Sweet N Low because they heard there were actually calories in those alluring pink packets and bitch them out for false advertising. Starvation drives you completely, utterly insane.

I might add that while I was at my lowest weight, I also had the top grade in the most advanced chemistry class on campus: physical chemistry (aka p-chem).

So don't tell me I was dying to be thin, because I wasn't. My anorexia wasn't about looks, or fashion or really about anything. Except fear.

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1 comment:

marcella said...

Well done. Excellent post. But how do we get this across to the professional powers that be let alone to general journalists.
My daughter did not want to be thin for fashion purposes. Until she HAD AN she wasn't interested in fashion at all. She did not want to be thin once she had AN either, it was an unfortunate byproduct of not eating enough. She was thin because she was dying - but then again so are all starving people so it doesn't make much of a headline.

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About Me

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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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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com

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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