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Oh Isabelle... eat something. Anything. Pleeeaaaase.
September 30, 2007 9:47 AM   Subscribe

"I've hidden myself and covered myself for too long. Now I want to show myself fearlessly, even though I know my body arouses repugnance. I want to recover because I love life and the riches of the universe. I want to show young people how dangerous this illness is." French Comedienne Isabelle Caro, 27, an anorexic who weighs just 68 pounds, was displayed on Milan billboards (NSFW) for fashion designer Nolita as the city celebrated fashion week. The prevalence of eating disorders within the fashion industry have only recently been addressed officially, however Georgio Armani has complained that since Caro isn't a model herself it proves "even people who take no notice of fashion get anorexic."
posted by miss lynnster (116 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
an anorexic who weighs just 68 pounds

I can't bring myself to click on the pictures.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:56 AM on September 30, 2007


It's rather pathetic that Time (a magazine for American adults) feels the need to blank out her (near non-existent) breasts in their report on a poster that has doubtless been seen by thousands of Italian five year olds.

What is it with Americans and nudity. I mean, this is hardly titillating is it?
posted by rhymer at 9:56 AM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can't bring myself to click on the pictures.

Just close your eyes and think of myspace.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:03 AM on September 30, 2007


I did click on the picture, and it was so depressing...I can't begin to understand the mental process that leads to people doing that to themselves.

Well, actually I can, it's the society we live in. And it sucks.
posted by DMan at 10:07 AM on September 30, 2007


What is it with Americans and nudity. I mean, this is hardly titillating is it?

I imagine that in this particular case, it's because Time magazine has a no-boobs policy.

But hey, if it prevents only a single rape, who's to complain?
posted by sour cream at 10:09 AM on September 30, 2007


The whole "oh anorexic person, just eat something!" impulse misunderstands the nature of the disease, which is not based on stubbornness but on control issues (although the disease is not well understood).

When my sister was wasting away from anorexia, she was stopped twice, once in a mall and once at a gallery, and on both occasions offered a business card by a modeling agency.
posted by Falconetti at 10:11 AM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


With the contempt for fatness in the white West, it's no surprise that anorexia is rampant in the fashion world, where adult females are meanly encouraged to look like 12 year old boys.

Mary Wollstoncraft said in her brilliant A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) that the obsession with women having to be pretty, or else denigrated, was simply about women being perceived and valued as an orifice.

Adding to images of anorexia. The Psychoanalysis of Anorexia and Bulimia. Related.
posted by nickyskye at 10:11 AM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think this is great. It's a stark and brutal response to the mainstream fetishism of extreme thinness in fashion, and it's quite brave of Ms. Caro to have agreed to pose for this.
posted by stagewhisper at 10:14 AM on September 30, 2007


When my sister was wasting away from anorexia, she was stopped twice, once in a mall and once at a gallery, and on both occasions offered a business card by a modeling agency.

Ugh, people are evil.
posted by empath at 10:14 AM on September 30, 2007


Giorgio, Domenico and Stefano all sound like they've been taking lessons from the tobacco industry executives, don't they?

I don't know very much about anorexia. It's a funny illness, because it's like alcoholism in the sense that it's a disease that is defined by taking a normal activity to abnormal limits. Do we know anything about the historical or trans-cultural incidences of the condition? I guess you'd need that sort of information to figure out whether the fashion and advertising industries contribute in some way.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:15 AM on September 30, 2007


Do we know anything about the historical or trans-cultural incidences of the condition

It is much more prevalent in America and Western Europe and the typical sufferer is a white women from a middle class family with both parents.
posted by Falconetti at 10:20 AM on September 30, 2007


Oh, I do know that Falconetti, I really didn't mean to imply that a sandwich cures anorexia. I was struggling for a headline, so I just wrote exactly what I know a lot of people think to themselves upon seeing a grown woman who weighs 68 pounds.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:20 AM on September 30, 2007


(near non-existent) breasts

actually, breasts (very existent breasts, I might add) are omnipresent in ads here, in magazines and on billboards. the world have managed not to end due to the widespread exposure to those satanic agents, boobs.

the case itself is just another example of Oliviero Toscani's shock tactics; the time he used the photo (not his, in that case) of an AIDS patient's last moments for a Benetton ad it was quite more tasteless. showing an anorexic naked woman right before fashion week starts does not strike me as the most clever or original idea ever, but to each his own, Toscani's shtick is certainly working (this has been discussed more widely abroad than in Italy, incidentally, where people simply said, huh, OK, and went along with their day).

and by the way, having said that fashion ads -- not catwalks because nobody considers them part of real life, they're just a strange, cool show with clothes you'll never see on the street -- fashion ads in magazines as I said are indeed promoting an unhealthy body type.

but then, the whippet thin women with gigantic fake breasts of American porn and FHM-type magazines are an unhealthy influence, too, and nobody's busting Vivid Video's balls the way they're busting the fashion people's.

of course "Georgio" ("Armane"'s the last name, I suppose) is only stating the obvious, the equation "fashion victim = possible victim of anorexia" is too lazy -- and frankly, dumb -- to consider.
posted by matteo at 10:24 AM on September 30, 2007


so I just wrote exactly what I know a lot of people think to themselves upon seeing a grown woman who weighs 68 pounds

if they do, it's because they're tragically misinformed (unkind people would say "ignorant") about a very dangerous disease -- it's a bit like seeing a lung cacer patient and thinking "stop fucking wheezing already and take a deep breath, OK?".

and if you only have dumb ideas for a post's headline, just don't post. it's not really mandatory to put stuff on the front page at regular intervals.
posted by matteo at 10:29 AM on September 30, 2007


Isabelle's show doesn't sound like a barrel of laughs, does it? She's no Roy 'Chubby' Brown, that's for sure.

Falconetti: I'd assumed that was the case. I couldn't imagine there being much anorexia in those societies where people were literally starving for want of food.

One of the saddest things I've ever seen in my life was during a visit to Bedlam (The Royal Bethlem Hospital). The hospital had a group of teenage anorexics being treated there who would sweep through the grounds like a flock of tragic crows. Seeing one is sad enough. See a bunch of them together, and it feels like you've wandered into Belsen, not Bedlam.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:29 AM on September 30, 2007


I looked for anorexia statistics by country. The thing that strikes me strange on it this particular chart is that China, India, Russia and Mexico are so much higher than I expected. (Makes me wonder if actually this is just a chart counting up hungry people.)
posted by miss lynnster at 10:31 AM on September 30, 2007


Okay, point noted. I meant no offense and I apologize. I almost didn't hit post for that exact reason, actually. You are right and I shouldn't have.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:32 AM on September 30, 2007


it's a bit like seeing a lung cacer patient and thinking "stop fucking wheezing already and take a deep breath, OK?".

No, it really isn't.
posted by tristeza at 10:35 AM on September 30, 2007


so I just wrote exactly what I know a lot of people think to themselves upon seeing a grown woman who weighs 68 pounds.

My sister has a lot of funny stories about when my parents sent her to a psychiatric clinic that specialized in anorexia in Pittsburgh, such as girls not putting on lotion because they were afraid some of the calories would seep into their skin. But the best stories are the looks they would get when they'd all hang out on stoop in front of the building and people would do double takes because there would be a gaggle of emaciated women all in one place.
posted by Falconetti at 10:38 AM on September 30, 2007


Speaking as someone who really likes the thin look, this (and Keira Knightley or Mary-Kate Olsen at their thinnest as more mainstream examples) is hideous, but I don't think promoting Renaissance-era conceptions of beauty[NSFW] as attractive is the answer either.

I want the thinness encouraged by modern fashion to stick around, and I think there is a happy medium (see Padma Lakshmi[NSFW] for an excellent example). That said, I think much broader recognition/awareness of the potential for it to become a disorder is desperately needed.
posted by Ryvar at 10:38 AM on September 30, 2007


Oops, I didn't mean to quote what I quoted above. I meant to quote the thing about seeing a group of anorexics all in one place.
posted by Falconetti at 10:41 AM on September 30, 2007


Georgio Armani is anorexic himself so no surprise there.

I'm not sure it's fair to blame the high fashion industry for anorexia, given other influences like Hollywood, pop music, Moms, high school, porn etc. But it's true that the fashion industry has down-sized the models in the last decade. I used to model some and was a size 4/6. (For visualization purposes- that's a 26-27" waist and a 32" bra strap). Today the girls are much slimmer, a size 2-4 is probably the norm. Which is fine if you're 5'2" but crazy skinny when you're 5'10"+.

"Plus size" models are now frequently a US size 8, which is quite nutty.
posted by fshgrl at 10:47 AM on September 30, 2007


of course "Georgio" ("Armane"'s the last name, I suppose) is only stating the obvious, the equation "fashion victim = possible victim of anorexia" is too lazy -- and frankly, dumb -- to consider.

Stated as baldly as that, you're absolutely right. And that's precisely how the tobacco industry would respond to their critics as well, arguing that 'there is no proven causal link between smoking tobacco and lung cancer'.

But that doesn't mean that representations of women in our culture aren't a factor here. And if they are, then the fashion industry plays a much more important role in shaping women's ideas and desires about how they should look than the Vivid girls do. For one thing, they have much, much more status. Many, many more teenage girls aspire to be Kate Moss than they do Jenna Jameson. And the body size of your average fashion model is pretty damn close to anorexic, so if that is what you aspire to, you're going to be looking to be around that size I would have thought.

Having said that though, the anorexics I've known haven't been people pursuing a career in the fashion industry -- they have obviously had a form of thought disorder that's akin to body dysmorphia, but I think it's quite possible that representations of women -- in large part shaped by the fashion and entertainment industries -- determine the form in which that particular disorder manifests itself in the west.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:49 AM on September 30, 2007


On the chart you linked misslynnster it says, "estimated 0.1% adults" and then has "Extrapolated Prevalence" based on "Population Estimated Used" per country. So that's how India gets high results, it has a 1+ billion population. In the decade I spent in India I never saw a single case of anorexia but it is, apparently, on the rise there.

In Hindi the word for thin (kamzoor) means ill.

"A new study has found that women suffering from anorexia, an eating disorder, have distinct differences in the insulta – the specific part of the brain that is important for recognising taste."
posted by nickyskye at 10:50 AM on September 30, 2007


Oh come on, the title may not do the content of the post justice, but it's inoffensive, folks need to back off with their whistles and flags.

This disease is just one more thing that proves how the relation between our physical selves and world is only tangentially related to the world which we perceive, and how merciless an imbalance between them can be. I look at these people and all I can think is that we are so... malleable.
posted by hermitosis at 10:52 AM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


As an aside, it's become very acceptable in US society to be openly vicious to thin girls. If you're already self-conscious about being tall and gawky, which most teens are, that might be enough to drive you over the edge into self-loathing.
posted by fshgrl at 10:52 AM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


and if you only have dumb ideas for a post's headline, just don't post.

If you only have dumb ideas for a complaint, just don't comment. Seriously dude-- she explained she understands the nature of the disease and didn't mean to imply a sandwhich was a cure. It's not like the relevence or fascination of a post turns on the fucking headline.
posted by bookish at 10:55 AM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I looked for anorexia statistics by country.

Those figures are complete rubbish, Miss Lynster. The author says below the chart that what they did was took the estimated prevalence of anorexia in the US and simply extrapolated to everywhere else by population. So it tells us nothing at all about the differences, presumably because nobody has bothered to count them elsewhere?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:57 AM on September 30, 2007


it's become very acceptable in US society to be openly vicious to thin girls.
posted by hermitosis at 10:57 AM on September 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


so I just wrote exactly what I know a lot of people think to themselves upon seeing a grown woman who weighs 68 pounds

if they do, it's because they're tragically misinformed (unkind people would say "ignorant") about a very dangerous disease -- it's a bit like seeing a lung cacer patient and thinking "stop fucking wheezing already and take a deep breath, OK?".


I don't think a visceral response has anything to do with logic- there's nothing wrong or unusual in seeing an emaciated human and immediately thinking "oh, dear... you need FOOD." It's a perfectly human response, that for most people is pretty immediately followed by the more rational response to the situation.

Ultimately, the best medicine for starvation is nutrition. It's a reasonable, empathic response to want to feed starving people. Expressing that doesn't mean that people are unaware of the complexities inherent in in actually making that happen.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:58 AM on September 30, 2007 [6 favorites]


As an aside, it's become very acceptable in US society to be openly vicious to thin girls.

Fixed that for 'ya.
posted by sotonohito at 11:02 AM on September 30, 2007


... where people simply said, huh, OK, and went along with their day).

Is total apathy less ignorant and offensive than expressing the thought "please eat something"?
posted by oneirodynia at 11:07 AM on September 30, 2007


if they do, it's because they're tragically misinformed (unkind people would say "ignorant") about a very dangerous disease -- it's a bit like seeing a lung cacer patient and thinking "stop fucking wheezing already and take a deep breath, OK?".

Cancer patient can't make a choice to stop wheezing, while the anorexia patient can make a choice to stop undereating.

On the other hand, the cancer patient probably got there by smoking, which they could have made a choice to stop, so in a broader sense it is the same sort of thing: akrasia.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:08 AM on September 30, 2007


Georgio Armani is anorexic himself so no surprise there.

He doesn't look anorexic. Has he struggled with the condition in the past, or something?

Either way, he's actually been quite responsible about the issue, drawing attention to it in the past and sending back models he regarded as too thin.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:08 AM on September 30, 2007


Ryvar, The Padma Lakshmi look is basically a 12 year old boy's body (with some slight curves thrown in) with breast implants. That's simply not the way billions of women on the planet look.

And what you labeled as Renaissance-era is actually Renoir, who lived 1841 to 1919.

Simonetta Vespucci was Botticelli's model and considered, before she died at 22, to be the epitome of beauty during the Renaissance era.
posted by nickyskye at 11:09 AM on September 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's interesting to contemplate what these women (and men similarly affected) see when they look in the mirror. You can go to a site like photobucket and do a search on "fat" or "fattie" and find lots of photos of morbid obesity like you'd expect, but you can also find lots of self-taken photos of normal and lovely young women who simply are not fat.

I think I get a hint of that, though. I'm fat and have always been, and obviously it doesn't bother me enough to do anything about it. But I look back on photos of myself as a teen and realize I wasn't THAT fat, while at the time I thought I was hopelessly rotund. I suspect I'd have to look like Christian Bale before I'd label myself as anything but flabby.
posted by maxwelton at 11:13 AM on September 30, 2007


Cancer patient can't make a choice to stop wheezing, while the anorexia patient can make a choice to stop undereating.

Can a depressed person make a "choice" to just be happy? Can a schizoaffective person make a "choice" to stop hearing voices? I understand that you think it is just a lack of willpower that makes an anorexic person starve themselves, but that is just not the case. You don't have to believe my personal and anecdotal understanding of it, you just have to make the most cursory pass through the medical literature.
posted by Falconetti at 11:19 AM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's a funny illness, because it's like alcoholism in the sense that it's a disease that is defined by taking a normal activity to abnormal limits.
Except that alcoholism is a physical addiction and alcohol is addictive--people's susceptibility to it varies by genetic makeup and by how much they expose themselves to it, which allows many people to ingest alcohol without developing alcoholism. Like sensitivity to poison ivy, it's possible for some people to get alcoholism right away and for some people to get it only after repeated and determined exposure, but it's still a reaction to a chemical. Withdrawal from alcohol in an acute alcoholic is much more likely to cause death than withdrawal from heroin is likely to kill a heroin addict.

Anorexia may be chemical in nature, but if so it's chemicals manufactured by the body.
posted by Peach at 11:29 AM on September 30, 2007


Apologies, nickyskye - you're entirely correct about the Renoir. I was at the Clark yesterday and after a couple hours they all sort of run together. That said, the linked picture IS indicative of the proportions of the overwhelming majority of Renaissance nudes (your example notwithstanding), and I should preface that I don't have time to get into a 'who can link the most examples supporting their point' contest.

That's simply not the way billions of women on the planet look.

Yes, and it's a crying shame. Regardless of the era men want healthy mates who look like they take care of themselves - it's the 'take care of themselves' that varies from era to era, depending upon the scarcity of food and culturally appropriate levels of exercise. This is pretty straightforward stuff and there's no reason to be ashamed of it.
posted by Ryvar at 11:31 AM on September 30, 2007


Ryvar, The Padma Lakshmi look is basically a 12 year old boy's body

Ryvar,
I wanna take you to a gay bar...

Seriously. When I was a young man, I was also extremely thin. And I had an aesthetic preference for women with the body shape that Ryvar favours.

The sex, as my mother used to put it, was like two skeletons rattling around in a biscuit tin. All clashing bones and non-sensual discomfort.

Later in life, I discovered the genuinely womanly figure, with hips and curves and all the rest of it and my sex life improved by a factor of ten.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:34 AM on September 30, 2007 [7 favorites]


PMD: The sex, as my mother used to put it, was like two skeletons rattling around in a biscuit tin. All clashing bones and non-sensual discomfort.

Later in life, I discovered the genuinely womanly figure, with hips and curves and all the rest of it and my sex life improved by a factor of ten.


You know, you also could just have moved out of your mom's place. Or put on some loud music, to drown out the rattling.
posted by sour cream at 11:42 AM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


What I find most interesting about all of this is that for a long time I took it for granted that "the media" was instrumental in the anorexia of North American women and at the same time that there couldn't possibly be causal links between violent movies and video games and school shootings.

Are there any articles/papers/etc discussing the differences and similarities. Am I crazy for seeing these two issues as very similar?

The argument often heard vs. the video game leads to violence argument is that "some people are just fucked up." Does this not also work for anorexics?

On the flip side, should we start looking at how companies producing violent media could... I don't even know how to end this sentence really. What are we asking the fashion companies for?
posted by ODiV at 11:44 AM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Adding to the fat can be ok aspect. Rubenesque hippo dude.
posted by nickyskye at 11:46 AM on September 30, 2007


China, India, Russia and Mexico are so much higher than I expected.

Arranged marriages, or pressures for young marriages, can drive anorexia, as a rejection or an avoidance of adult expectations.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:46 AM on September 30, 2007


I've been wondering lately about bodybuilding as a form of control, like anorexia and bulimia. As I get more into weightlifting and fitness I see my own behaviors and thoughts drifting into the kind of patterns that I imagine anorexia and bulimia start at. I'd be curious to see if there's ever been a study of the correlation.
posted by lekvar at 11:51 AM on September 30, 2007


levar: It's called muscle dysmorphia.
posted by ODiV at 11:56 AM on September 30, 2007


lekvar even.
posted by ODiV at 11:56 AM on September 30, 2007


This may sound redundant, but something about her head looks remarkably... skull-like.

Chilling, really.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2007


What ever happened to the art of showing amazing beauty, regardless of body type? The real crime happening is convincing people that beauty only comes in certain sorts of packages. That is a terribly limiting view, it brings you to miss a lot of chances to behold beauty in your daily life.

Yet, is it not fascinating how human taste can be influenced?
posted by Goofyy at 11:59 AM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Regardless of the era men want healthy mates who look like they take care of themselves - it's the 'take care of themselves' that varies from era to era, depending upon the scarcity of food and culturally appropriate levels of exercise.

I don't really want to get into this argument too much, but really, this is where the real harm of fashion/Hollywood/porn comes in. Men have no idea what women are supposed to look like. Here's my anecdote -

I used to be an outdoor professional. I hiked miles every day and carried 50+ lb packs up and down mountains at least twice a week. So did all my coworkers. We were living in the backcountry, so no fast food - we cooked everything for ourselves. So yeah, we were definitately "taking care of ourselves."

And guess what? Some women are indeed skinny (but usually not with big boobs like Padma Lakshmi - doubt those are natural). But most women have soft curvy parts even when they're in really good shape. So no, most women who take care of themselves _don't_ look like Padma Lakshmi, nor will they no matter what they do.

And the "no matter what they do" part is where the eating disorder door gets opened.
posted by ilyanassa at 12:06 PM on September 30, 2007 [9 favorites]


One of the top modeling agencies in the world occupies the top floor of my office building. Waiting for elevators and whatnot, i get to see a lot of models. Their most striking feature? They just don't look like normal women. Something about them seems .... off.

While I'm sure that some of them are anorexic, my suspicion is that most of them are simply genetic outliers - women who are born, for better or for worse, with a metabolism and physiology that is quite uncommon to the human population. This means that women are, quite literally, modeling themselves after genetic freaks and mutants. It's all pretty hopeless, but people buy into it nonetheless.

WTF?
posted by Afroblanco at 12:12 PM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Can a depressed person make a "choice" to just be happy?

They sure can, and do it all the time. With the modern science it can be as simple as making a choice to start eating some happy pills, if you need an easy way. I see an obvious difference between the mental disorders where people can't stop eating, can't stop not eating, can't stop smoking cigarettes, can't stop playing WoW, can't stop cutting on themselves, etc. and the types of disorders where something is clearly fundamentally wrong like schizophrenia, amnesia, dementia. To illustrate, I've heard no evidence that people who are hearing voices tend to be able to will the voices away.

I understand that you think it is just a lack of willpower that makes an anorexic person starve themselves, but that is just not the case.


Yes, it is. It is the only thing. Their hands, mouth, and gut still work. The food store's still open. Go to the store, buy a sandwich, pick it up, put it in your mouth, chew, and swallow. None of these functions are broken by anorexia.

"But they have a compulsion not to eat. It's a struggle for them to eat. Eating causes them to feel self-disgust..."

Willpower. Overcome those feelings, pick up the sandwich, eat it. It's hard? Suck it up. Get some support and help if that's necessary. PUT THE SANDWICH IN YOUR MOUTH.

Of course it's a continuum and multidimensional and complex and everything, but to simplify, the choice is to exercise some rational control over your emotions, mindset, and actions, or give up on being better than the other, baser, animals and live a life of instinct without applying rational thought.

I see this akrasia concept as pretty applicable in a lot of places. Smoking addiction, for example. STOP PUTTING CIGARETTES IN YOUR MOUTH. Withdrawal? Suck it up and get through it. There's actually some statistical evidence that with the availability of the gums, counseling, patches, and so on, people who quit in the long term are still, for the most part, those who truly decided they would stop smoking and started a rigorous regimen of NOT PUTTING CIGARETTES IN THEIR MOUTH. (Not very clear evidence yet, in my opinion, but if the hypothesis is correct that's because these stop-smoking aids haven't been out for very long in demographic terms.)

I'm not claiming I'm some Nietzschean force of will here - I certainly indulge in all sorts of mental laziness and weakness, but I do manage to keep from inflicting serious misery or health damage upon myself.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:18 PM on September 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


One of the top modeling agencies in the world occupies the top floor of my office building. Waiting for elevators and whatnot, i get to see a lot of models. Their most striking feature? They just don't look like normal women. Something about them seems .... off.

That's one misperception a lot of people have about high fashion. While the FHM type girls are generally traditionally beautiful/hot, a lot of high fashion models are slightly bizarre looking, often with certain exaggerated features or proportions. They are generally very tall, skinny, long limbs, small boobs, perfect skin. Think very angular. Obviously there are a million exceptions to this, but as you get higher up the fashion chain this tends to be the aesthetic.

I personally think that the FHM/"it" girl of the moment, really drives the standard of beauty for women at any given time, a lot more than designers like Armani do.
posted by whoaali at 12:35 PM on September 30, 2007


What I've discovered is that men who cannot get hot women seem to be the first in lline to jump on the bandwagon the minute the "anorexia" or "freak" card is played (unjustly played 99% of the time, by the way).

On the flip-side: I don't understand men who are so-called "chubby-chasers" or who like big asses on women.

But I would never deem fat women "freaks" or "sick".

This is a glaring double standard that goes unnoticed because of the prejudice and jealousy towards models and towards hot, thin women in general.
posted by wfc123 at 12:41 PM on September 30, 2007


This is a glaring double standard that goes unnoticed because of the prejudice and jealousy towards models and towards hot, thin women in general.

Yes, hot women truly have been systematically subjugated and discriminated against throughout human history.

Yet, does Congress act when a model only makes $5,000 for a 3 hour photo shoot where she didn't even get her own stylist? No.

Does anyone stand up and object when a beautiful woman gets into a club free, while dozens wait outside, only to be forced to buy her own drink at the bar?

....

But in all seriousness, give me a fucking break. I mean I realize sometimes beautiful women get the dumb blonde thing or are only valued for their looks, but overall our society rewards youth and beauty like nothing else. Occasionally, being questioned about being anorexic because you are 5'8 and 100 pounds, seems like a pretty small price to pay.
posted by whoaali at 12:53 PM on September 30, 2007


Regardless of the era men want healthy mates who look like they take care of themselves - it's the 'take care of themselves' that varies from era to era, depending upon the scarcity of food and culturally appropriate levels of exercise.

I can only second ilyanassa. The women I know who take care of themselves physically and are living healthy lifestyles look nothing like your picture, Ryvar. They have more muscle, for one thing. They're bigger. They often have more body fat, except for the very elite athletes. Some have big boobs and some don't, that varies greatly from woman to woman and has nothing to do with whether or not she takes care of herself but genetics (unless you consider plastic surgery to be "taking care of yourself"). And you know, their waists are often thicker, reducing the hourglass curve, because they have a good deal of core strength.

Actually, Padma looks more like the women I know who can't take care of themselves. They are very pretty, yes, but they can't carry their own boxes, they could not outrun or fight an attacker, and they get tired walking far. They're skinny-fat, with maybe the little tone that comes from doing elliptical and using light weights at the gym. These women are considered hotter by our media but would be broken in a second by any of the girls I know who can "take care of themselves."

Willpower. Overcome those feelings, pick up the sandwich, eat it. It's hard? Suck it up. Get some support and help if that's necessary. PUT THE SANDWICH IN YOUR MOUTH.

You're a fucking retard. Yes, in the end, it's about eating more. I wrote about five paragraphs detailing my struggle with bulimia/anorexia in early high school, but I've deleted it. Because you know, in the end, it is all just to explain to you that I went through this. I came out. And it was not about putting the goddamned sandwich in my mouth. That was the last step in the process, and it proved I was better.

What I've discovered is that men who cannot get hot women seem to be the first in lline to jump on the bandwagon the minute the "anorexia" or "freak" card is played (unjustly played 99% of the time, by the way).

Wow. Really? I guess I am a loser then, because I like curvier women and would not touch most bags-of-antlers if they begged me. I will have to go tell all my curve-loving male friends they are losers, too. Thanks for letting us know! I guess we'll have to be content leaving all the "hotties" to you and resign ourselves to being with women who don't freak out if they eat something besides cottage cheese on a bed of lettuce.

wfc123, I am truly sorry you and the rest of the beautiful people get such harsh treatment. I know that ugly people are preferred for jobs and promotions, earn more money, are assumed to be smarter and kinder by strangers, are more likely to be accepted into colleges when the application requires a photo, and are celebrated throughout all of history. I mean, there are so many psychology studies backing up this very fact! After all, wasn't Helen of Troy valued for her personality and quick wit?
posted by schroedinger at 12:58 PM on September 30, 2007 [11 favorites]


TheOnlyCoolTim: Yes, it is. It is the only thing. Their hands, mouth, and gut still work. The food store's still open. Go to the store, buy a sandwich, pick it up, put it in your mouth, chew, and swallow. None of these functions are broken by anorexia.

Oh, and if you have schizophrenia, just suck it up and stop listening to the voices. It's just a matter of will.

Don't be daft. The first thing mental illness breaks or twists is your willpower. Not to mention that everyone doesn't have infinite willpower, and most people don't have enough to fight serious compulsions in the first places.

On a side note, serious, long-term anorexics will become very sick and can even die if they just start eating normal amounts of ordinary food. They need serious medical attention just to survive, and sometimes they are too far gone even for that.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:01 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ryvar, the overwhelming majority of Renaissance nudes

Incorrect. The Renaissance nude, more or less an average white European female body, was more defined by Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Brueghel. The chubby women look you are referring to is a Baroque style, specifically Rubens, who was considered both a Renaissance painter but whose Baroque paintings of voluptuous women were the source of the modern term "rubenesque".

who look like they take care of themselves

Who starve themselves? Because that's basically what it takes for a woman to attempt to have a body like a 12 year old boy. Where does this put all the women who work or have kids and don't have time, are too tired or not inclined to spend 1 to 4 hours a day at the gym? Those women may take care of themselves in any number of ways but not look like a top model [nsfw], a large part of whose livelihood is based her looks.

Padma Lakshmi, who can also at times look pretty anorexic, is the daughter of a tall, lean, muscular father and a slender mother. That's not the genetic case for most other females. So it may not mean that other, fatter, shorter, stouter, plumper, chubbier women aren't taking care of themselves, just that they aren't your preference.
posted by nickyskye at 1:01 PM on September 30, 2007


"Giorgio Armani is anorexic himself so no surprise there."

You are confusing him with Karl Lagerfeld who lost around 100 pounds a few years ago. Armani is a handsome, fit man in his 60's.
posted by vronsky at 1:10 PM on September 30, 2007


Seems like a good place to link the Fat Rant.

And...as to the motivation behind anorexia, and people who go WTF?...you just don't know. It's not about "I can't stop starving!" it's about "if I stop starving, then people will stop seeing me as beautiful--I will become a fat, amorphous, invisible, hideous, unloved blob. I will be an object of ridicule. No one will ever want me." And to a large extent, if the people whose opinion you care about are the ones who follow fashion, or put "No fat chicks" stickers on their cars, that's absolutely true. I would venture to say that this woman is actually not repugnant to most of those people, that they would only tell her to get implants or put on some makeup. Not to gain weight. Even if she's nearly dead from undereating.

It's a pretty easy trap to fall into, to the point that I would say most women who diet regularly have the same mindset as an anorexic, they just don't take it as far.

Nothing is more hideous than fat, if you're a woman; being fat is the worst possible sin. Worse than smoking, having VD, being stupid, being an unpleasant, psychotic person, or even having a less than gorgeous face.

Fat is the visible proof of imperfection, it's lumpy, it's considered unhealthy to an extreme degree, it doesn't give you a sleek, greyhound-like, profile. It sags, it moves, and we as a culture are so afraid of it that we've engendered a host of eating disorders in response. Anorexia is in some ways a logical response to an extremely illogical pressure to have a perfectly sleek, mannequin-like body that we have taken as our ideal.
posted by emjaybee at 1:12 PM on September 30, 2007 [7 favorites]


The Karl Lagerfeld Diet
posted by vronsky at 1:14 PM on September 30, 2007


And just to add a personal anecdote to my anger about females being bullied, shamed, denigrated into thinness. When I was nine years old my rubenesque mother gave me speed, that she was addicted to, so I would be 'thin' and she could make money from me being a child model. It had a horrible impact on my childhood in a number of ways, including my back teeth starting to painfully rot, because that's what speed does to teeth.

When I left America at 16 there were many anorexics at the school I went to went to in London. My best friend, Melanie, became anorexic, truly a skeleton. She told me that not eating was very much connected with her sexual feelings for a boy she liked. It was heartbreaking and she ended up in a clinic, near death for almost a year.
posted by nickyskye at 1:15 PM on September 30, 2007


nickyskye: Where does this put all the women who work or have kids and don't have time, are too tired or not inclined to spend 1 to 4 hours a day at the gym? Those women may take care of themselves in any number of ways but not look like a top model [nsfw], a large part of whose livelihood is based her looks.

Why should you have to feel as beautiful as a top model? Do you feel like you're a failure if you're not as intelligent as a brilliant scientist or as talented as a great artist? All it means is tha you don't get to be a top model (and really, would you want to be?) and you won't be able to pick from the most attractive or rich guys, but you're probably better off without them anyway (most of them are dicks, to be honest.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:15 PM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Not to make light of Caro's sickness, but look at this silly hag.
posted by phaedon at 1:23 PM on September 30, 2007


While the FHM type girls are generally traditionally beautiful/hot, a lot of high fashion models are slightly bizarre looking, often with certain exaggerated features or proportions. They are generally very tall, skinny, long limbs, small boobs, perfect skin.

A lot of high fashion models are also 14 years old, which is also part of it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:25 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes, it is. It is the only thing. Their hands, mouth, and gut still work. The food store's still open. Go to the store, buy a sandwich, pick it up, put it in your mouth, chew, and swallow. None of these functions are broken by anorexia.

This is true only in your fantasy world. For fuck's sake, before you chime in with your "theories" on eating disorders, it might be worth your time to read something, anything, about them so you'd understand why this makes no sense. As schroendinger said, eating healthily is the last step, since anorexia is primarily a mental disorder that ravishes one's ability to interact with the world and the self in a normal manner. Of course, you try to elide what you must know is stupid by pretending that "eat a sandwich" means get the necessary medical and psychiatric treatment to make it possible for one to eat a sandwich. If that is truly what you are trying to say, then learn to speak directly and not in elliptical phrases.
posted by Falconetti at 1:44 PM on September 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


As an aside, it's become very acceptable in US society to be openly vicious to thin girls. If you're already self-conscious about being tall and gawky, which most teens are, that might be enough to drive you over the edge into self-loathing.

...which is where you'll find all the other teenagers. Welcome to the club.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:44 PM on September 30, 2007


Why should you have to feel as beautiful as a top model? Do you feel like you're a failure if you're not as intelligent as a brilliant scientist or as talented as a great artist? All it means is tha you don't get to be a top model (and really, would you want to be?) and you won't be able to pick from the most attractive or rich guys...

Oh yes, Mitrovarr, that's precisely what this is all about. All women want in this world is to land a super-rich husband! My God, when I think of all the time I spent going to college when I could have been pursuing my very own Stavros Niarchos, why...I just cry!

In case you missed the references above, or elsewhere, people who are considered attractive by current societal standards are more likely to get paid more, be treated better, be considered more intelligent and capable, etc etc etc etc etc ad infinitum. Humans have an innate preference for "pretty" faces -- even infants show a marked preference for more even, regular faces in tests.

In short: smart women who don't happen to be particularly model-gorgeous have read between the lines and find it frustrating that -- no matter what people say about judging people by their skills alone -- this isn't actually the case. They don't feel they HAVE to be "as beautiful as a top model" but they certainly know it would help them get their other assets *ahem* noticed in the workplace and elsewhere.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:49 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


bitter-girl.com: In short: smart women who don't happen to be particularly model-gorgeous have read between the lines and find it frustrating that -- no matter what people say about judging people by their skills alone -- this isn't actually the case. They don't feel they HAVE to be "as beautiful as a top model" but they certainly know it would help them get their other assets *ahem* noticed in the workplace and elsewhere.

Eh, there are plenty of fields where this is not the case. For example, if you run faster, jump higher, etc. in athletics, you win, period - your appearance doesn't matter except maybe peripherally in a few sports (those that are judged such as diving, gymnastics, etc.) Science is this way, too, at the upper level - all the most successful female scientists I know of are well into their middle age if not older. There's plenty of other fields decided pretty much entirely by talent.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:57 PM on September 30, 2007


Wait, are we all still pretending differing mental orientation whose surface manifestations we find obnoxious and/or don't personally understand are the cause of lack of willpower or laziness? really?

Cool, so could you fags stop all the buttpiracy and go sleep with a woman already? Your pride parades screw up traffic. Thanks a mil.

Damn, that was easy, someone hire me.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:05 PM on September 30, 2007


Except Mitrovarr they're aren't. Please show me your studies that indicate this is the case. Show me the ugly female athlete who is receiving fame and endorsement deals--and I'll show you ten Anna Kournikovas.
posted by schroedinger at 2:09 PM on September 30, 2007


Again, Mitrovarr, you're pointing out the exceptions, not the rule. Most women are not professional athletes whose pay scale is determined simply by whether or not they can win. Women scientists are also somewhat rarer than the norm.

When you can back up your assertions using, say, executive assistants or salespeople, then go right ahead.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:20 PM on September 30, 2007


schroedinger: Except Mitrovarr they're aren't. Please show me your studies that indicate this is the case. Show me the ugly female athlete who is receiving fame and endorsement deals--and I'll show you ten Anna Kournikovas.

What do you think they do, say "Well, that's the best anyone's ever run a marathon, but we just don't think you're attractive enough, so we're not counting the record?" Success in professional sports is not a matter of fame and endorsement deals, it's a matter of beating the opposition, setting personal bests, and breaking records. Skill and talent will get you all the way to a gold medal in the olympics - yes, if you are hideous, you may never grace the cover of a box of Wheaties, but you still reached the pinnacle of your field and bested all competitors.

Also, pick up a scientific journal sometime. Lots of female names (well, at least in my field, Biology), but are they attractive? Who knows? The journal doesn't ask for pictures.

I'm sure there are studies on the topic, but I'm honestly too lazy to look them up. It's not as if you provided any for your side, either.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:27 PM on September 30, 2007


bitter-girl.com: When you can back up your assertions using, say, executive assistants or salespeople, then go right ahead.

You know, I tend to think that unattractive and/or fat men also get discriminated against in such fields. I think there was also a study a few years back that showed short men were disadvantaged in business.

I'm sure appearance effects a lot of professions. I guess my main point was, there are alternatives, and one doesn't have to be model-pretty to compete in most fields anyway. In the top tiers of most professions, talentless individuals wash out no matter how they look.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:34 PM on September 30, 2007


Appearance affects both men and women in all fields, both positively and negatively -- your assertion about short men in business has also been demonstrated in various studies.

What was offensive was your original offhand remark -- why worry about being pretty? all it does for you is help land a rich guy -- while I suppose you could reverse it and say the Fabios of the world would be out of luck if there were no women willing to pay for their "company" and/or Harlequin novel covers, it doesn't have quite the punch, does it?

Your implication that women only care about being attractive to nab a wealthy mate pretty much flies in the face of the original post and its implications -- anorexia and overobsession with one's looks is more a mental affliction than a "just eat a sandwich" one.

Plus, I don't understand your focus on only the top tiers of professions -- there are legions of highly capable executive assistants out there, for example, getting passed over in favor of their cute-but-clueless counterparts. That's an experience many more people can relate to than whether or not they end up on the Wheaties box.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:45 PM on September 30, 2007


bitter-girl.com: What was offensive was your original offhand remark -- why worry about being pretty? all it does for you is help land a rich gu

You misunderstood. I meant that not being model-beautiful (as opposed to normal attractiveness) would not absolutely prevent someone from doing anything except being a model and maybe top-tier mate selection, and I still agree with this. Being beautiful will help, certainly, but if you are very good at what you do, you can still succeed without it.

Anyways, as far as executive assistants go, I'd say it's a terribly bad field to choose if you're not very attractive. A lot of executives do pick pretty over good in that area. But seriously, do you want to be valued like that at your job, like a stripper or a pet, not as a person? Better just to pick one of the many, many fields where you can survive on competency alone, and be valued on your personal merits.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:52 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]




In short: smart women who don't happen to be particularly model-gorgeous have read between the lines and find it frustrating that -- no matter what people say about judging people by their skills alone -- this isn't actually the case. They don't feel they HAVE to be "as beautiful as a top model" but they certainly know it would help them get their other assets *ahem* noticed in the workplace and elsewhere.

Except that they don't have to be "as beautiful as a top model", or at least they don't have to be as thin as a fashion model. Anorexia may be a body image issue, but the issue is tied to body weight. And multiple studies have shown that men prefer women heavier than what women think.

I think the first study I saw about this was:

"Sex Differences in Perceptions of Desirable Body Shape", Fallon, April E.; Rozin, Paul; Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 94(1), Feb 1985. pp. 102-105.

Male and female subjects were presented with figure drawings of males and subjects, arranged from very thin to heavy, then asked to identify their current body type, what they would like to look like, what they thought attractive to the opposite sex, and what they found attractive in the opposite sex.

Women chose ideal figures that were thinner than what men really wanted, and men chose figures larger than what women wanted.

So ignoring issues of "ugliness", anorexia isn't actually a logical response to getting ahead. We need to teach more critical thinking skills. Oh, and we need to destroy the TVs and fashion mags.

Somebody should do an application for Facebook or something that brings attention to this phenomenon, to show more people the disparity between in perceptions of desirable body weight.
posted by formless at 2:55 PM on September 30, 2007


Better just to pick one of the many, many fields where you can survive on competency alone, and be valued on your personal merits.

So basically let's encourage ugly people to regulate themselves to the back room. They're happier there! No reason to try to modify society's perceptions of beauty! Ugly people don't want those jobs anyway!
posted by schroedinger at 2:56 PM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


schroedinger: I could list more. Do you want me to list more? Maybe you should show me yours.

No, not really, and I'm not going to poke at google for links today (I'm here for fun, and that wouldn't be.) But what's your point in all this? That there's a beauty bias? I'm not contesting that, I'm just attempting to point out specific examples of fields where people can succeed without being attractive. Certainly, from the successful people I've seen in those areas, it's not necessary - I've seen some that are beautiful and many that are not.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:09 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


schroedinger: So basically let's encourage ugly people to regulate themselves to the back room. They're happier there! No reason to try to modify society's perceptions of beauty! Ugly people don't want those jobs anyway!

So, you'd simply prefer to shift to whom society gives the finger? I've known very good women who were nearly anorexically thin, naturally - I wouldn't want them to suddenly be made unattractive because we shifted the standard to a heavier weight.

Better to reinforce that being pretty isn't that big of a deal and it's much more important to be good in other ways.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:14 PM on September 30, 2007


Pretty people earn more. Pretty people are hired more. People interact better with people perceived as physically attractive. Members of the opposite sex think you're a better person if you're physically attractive. Unattractive women are socially undesirable. Strangers think attractive people will make better friends. Attractive people are seen as more skilled. Doctors are more likely to believe attractive people are in pain than unattractive people (!). Attractive women are seen as healthier than unattractive women. Attractive kids are rated more popular than unattractive kids, irrespective of grades. Nurses are more likely to say ugly people are causing disturbances. Pretty babies are seen as more well-behaved and smarter than ugly babies. Beauty bias summary article.


Hmm. Those sound like good reasons not to be fat.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:23 PM on September 30, 2007


Wait, are we all still pretending differing mental orientation whose surface manifestations we find obnoxious and/or don't personally understand are the cause of lack of willpower or laziness? really?

Not eating is a mental orientation now? I'll get into that, treat anorexia the same as I think about gayness:

I don't care if it's nurture, nature, choice, or a combination, engage in whatever buttpiracy you want, but I don't want to hear about your "struggle with your sexuality." (I'm talking about internal struggle, not external.) If you like boobies, fine. If you like buttpiracy, fine. But if you like buttpiracy and you have to hate on yourself because of that, that's a pretty dumb mindset to have. If I woke up tomorrow morning with an attraction to guys, I could decide to become a flamer, decide to suck cocks in the men's room, or decide to not actually engage in anything gay for whatever reason, but I wouldn't sit there miserable about how gay I was.

If you're enjoying starving yourself, well, enjoy. If starving yourself is making you miserable, if you want to eat, then don't complain about how hard it is to eat, because it's not. All in your head. You're addicted to not eating. I stopped a long time ago looking at addiction as something I should respect or coddle - that's not to say I have no respect for anyone who's an addict, but at least these days we still have the proper attitude about cigarettes: Smoke? Stop smoking. Not strong enough to do cold turkey? We've got this Chantix, this nicotine gum, and this bupropion to make it easier on you. But generally people don't talk about the smoker's "mental disorder."

I'm not conflating this weakness/strength of will with morality anymore than I do physical strength - but I still think it's better for someone to be physically strong than physically weak, and I think this is agreeable. I think the same way about willpower.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:36 PM on September 30, 2007


TheOnlyCoolTim: I'm not conflating this weakness/strength of will with morality anymore than I do physical strength - but I still think it's better for someone to be physically strong than physically weak, and I think this is agreeable. I think the same way about willpower.

Yes, but as with physical strength, one does not magically gain willpower because someone berates you about it. You are not going to shame an anorexic into eating any more than you could order a small woman to lift a car above her head.

Also, it's worth noting that there have been some studies released recently that suggest that anorexia is in fact an organic mental disorder (that is, caused by biochemical irregularities in the brain.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:50 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


"anorexia and overobsession with one's looks is more a mental affliction than a "just eat a sandwich" one"

Isn't it something of a paranoid delusion? Anorexics can look in the mirror and still see themselves as hideously, horribly fat, even if any healthy person looks at them and sees a walking skeleton. That their paranoia is centered on their appearance...well, for women, aesthetic appearance is more of a real worry than, y'know, sekrit listening devices implanted in their skulls. It's not that the government (or Masons, or whathaveyou) is out to get them, it's that they're fat.
posted by dilettante at 4:00 PM on September 30, 2007


You're addicted to not eating. I stopped a long time ago looking at addiction as something I should respect or coddle

This underlies your complete misunderstanding of the disorder. Anorexia is not like Internet addiction or other nonsense like that, it is a complex and poorly understood disorder with sociocultural, neurobiological, and emotional factors. You seem to know much more about it than psychiatrists, doctors, and scientists. Perhaps you should publish your novel cure for it, it is truly a break though.
posted by Falconetti at 4:06 PM on September 30, 2007


Falconetti: Perhaps you should publish your novel cure for it, it is truly a break though.

He's working on the three book series. The first, "Eat a farking sandwich", contains his miracle cure for anorexia. The second, "Put down the fork, fatty" will cure the nation's obesity epidemic, and the third, "Get a job, you bum" will end unemployment and poverty as we know it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:18 PM on September 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


Anorexics can look in the mirror and still see themselves as hideously, horribly fat, even if any healthy person looks at them and sees a walking skeleton.

And ordinary women can look in the mirror and see themselves as fine when the rest of the world sees them as fat, too. Perception is a weird thing...

Example: Britney Spears at the VMAs, terrifying performance notwithstanding.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:25 PM on September 30, 2007


Also, it's worth noting that there have been some studies released recently that suggest that anorexia is in fact an organic mental disorder (that is, caused by biochemical irregularities in the brain.)

Did they show causation or just correlation - genuinely curious. The brain is a chemical/electrical machine, so of course people with thought irregularities are going to have chemical and electrical irregularities. What matters is can you attribute the bad mindset to some chemical mixup, say some neurotransmitter machinery randomly malfunctions, or is the chemical irregularity merely a symptom. The promotion of all depression as caused by a "chemical imbalance" seems to me to basically be a marketing gimmick to make people feel like they're not basically getting high off their Prozac - not that that's bad; if it helps with your depression that's great, but it's a psychoactive.

You seem to know much more about it than psychiatrists, doctors, and scientists.


I'd say I know about the same. I don't understand it, but neither do they.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:26 PM on September 30, 2007


The second book would actually be "Stop eating crap American processed food, fatty, and maybe walk when you have to go a mile instead of driving." Much easier and less self-denial than carefully counting how many 100 calorie snack packs of corn syrup and hydrogenated oil you eat.

But yeah, I like to reduce things to simple solutions especially when they only require some simple easy action or lack of action. Not eating enough? Eat some more. Eating too much? Eat less. Playing video games too much? Play video games less.

Thinking this way has worked great for me - if something's giving me grief, rather than wallow in it, apply a little rational thought to figure out how to make it stop giving me grief. The solution is often very simple. This can be a simple action (It's raining outside -> get an umbrella) or a realization that it's actually not such a big problem (lost my umbrella -> hey, it's fucking water, it's not like I'm allergic to it.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:39 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anorexia is a biochemical disorder. Sufferers don't taste food the way others do, and with their overactive dopemine pathways, they don't react to food stimuli the way you do, either. Additionally, starvation causes anorexic behaviours, and this effect has been documented outside the world of white western women with too much money.

But please, let's not let the facts stop you, go on about how it's all about willpower.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:43 PM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


yikes.
posted by nickyskye at 4:44 PM on September 30, 2007


i do believe the billboard ad is a bit misleading as the woman pictured is not even a model. it does, however, get its point across.
posted by brandz at 5:07 PM on September 30, 2007


The title of this post is really offensive. Good post, but geez.
posted by jessamyn at 5:20 PM on September 30, 2007


None of those three links addressed the issue I mentioned about the brain being a chemical/electrical machine. I'm not discounting them, but when I see a potential gaping flaw in some theory I wait for the flaw to be addressed before I believe it.

(The first mentions blood flow changes not being caused by weight loss - it says nothing about the changes not being caused by or a symptom of the anorexia that leads to weight loss.)

That starvation study link was quite interesting, though.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:22 PM on September 30, 2007


All mental disorders are physical disorders.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:29 PM on September 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Saying to an anorexic JUST EAT A BURGER is like saying to me JUST DON'T EAT A BURGER. What are you? CRAZY??? Don't eat a burger? Are you out of your frikkin mind???

TheOnlyCoolTim: "If you're enjoying starving yourself, well, enjoy. If starving yourself is making you miserable, if you want to eat, then don't complain about how hard it is to eat, because it's not. All in your head. "

What if, unconsciously, you want to be miserable?

What if you don't know that, cuz it's unconscious, and you think you don't want to eat cuz you don't want to eat?

What if you actually get something out of torturing yourself?

What if, for reasons you can't even explain to yourself, you feel you don't deserve that weight watchers plate of spaghetti and meatballs even though it's only got half a gram of fat in it? What if no one's told you in the past five minutes how beautiful you are, and that plate of food's gonna go right to the parts of your body which just refuse to relinquish any fat. You're already ugly, and that spaghetti's not going to make you better. What if you know you don't deserve that plate of food cuz you hate yourself, and you want to torture yourself slowly and painfully and miserably? Cuz that's what you deserve. That's what you need. No pain no gain.

*glances over at the anorexics in the room*

Am I getting warm? I'm a fat sot and know nothing about anorexia, but I'm king of manic depression.

I've apparently punished myself with food. You punish yourself without it. Hans used a machine gun. Harry used a fountain pen. What's the difference? Quit measuring your self-worth on how others perceive you. If you enjoy hating yourself, do it openly. Don't hide it behind something else. Trust me. It's much more fun that way.

Eat the damned burger. I'll go do a situp. Together we'll make the world a better place.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:29 PM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Jessamyn: "The title of this post is really offensive. Good post, but geez."

*elbows Jess in the ribs*

I double dare ya to go change it.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:30 PM on September 30, 2007


TheOnlyCoolTim: The second book would actually be "Stop eating crap American processed food, fatty, and maybe walk when you have to go a mile instead of driving." Much easier and less self-denial than carefully counting how many 100 calorie snack packs of corn syrup and hydrogenated oil you eat.

See, the problem is, the people suffering from these problems already know your solution. Something else is wrong; either the person doesn't have the willpower to go through with it, they have some mental illness, or something else is wrong (i.e. glandular disorders, people too unhealthy to exercise, people too busy to cook.)

Your solutions are technically accurate, but completely unhelpful because they're totally obvious. Nobody hasn't thought of them yet. Only the people for whom they don't work actually have the problem.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:43 PM on September 30, 2007


All this hand wringing over the title.

I bet less than 50% of MeFi readers even notice the titles, since they don't show on the front page. And of the 50% that notice, I bet they don't notice at least 50% of the time (that would be me).

I did not notice the title of this one till it was pointed out.

I think miss lynnster's intent is clear, and pure. I see no malice.

Also, there has to be at least a tiny component of willpower and choice assigned to anorexia, or else you would have to accept that it is an incurable disease. For therapy to work, there has to be something to grab hold of. If someone literally has completely lost the ability to control their own body, then therapy will do precious little.

I'm not sure how anorexia is something that can't be helped and a mental condition, while being fat is a personal failing. *shrug*
posted by Ynoxas at 7:11 PM on September 30, 2007


Falconetti:My sister has a lot of funny stories about when my parents sent her to a psychiatric clinic that specialized in anorexia in Pittsburgh, such as girls not putting on lotion because they were afraid some of the calories would seep into their skin

Giving them the hose again would have cleared that right up.
posted by dr_dank at 7:29 PM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Suggestions for improving the title.

"Oh Isabelle... to eat or not to eat. That is the question."

"Oh Isabelle... Ive got your number but youre never at home I leave a message, please telephone its so sad that youre not around..."

"Oh Isabelle... have some fava beans and a nice chianti, and put the lotion in the basket..."

"Oh Isabelle how come youre always such a fussy young man dont want no captain crunch, don't want no raisin bran..."
posted by ZachsMind at 7:41 PM on September 30, 2007


"Oh Isabelle... clean off your plate or you get the hose again..."
posted by ZachsMind at 7:43 PM on September 30, 2007


"Oh Jessica... eat something. Anything. Puh-puh-puh-puh-puh-pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!"
posted by ZachsMind at 7:48 PM on September 30, 2007



Cancer patient can't make a choice to stop wheezing, while the anorexia patient can make a choice to stop undereating.


I'm a naturally very thin guy, with a tiny stomach and a high metabolism. I love good food, and have never in my life been concerned about calories, because I've always nown that I, personally, didn't have to worry about them.

But I eat like a bird, because I just can't, physically, eat much at all.

Like, I'll have to literally force myself to choke things down, and I'll feel like I have to vomit when doing so.

So I undereat, not because I'm choosing to do so - I'd rather overeat at this point - but because I can't physically eat more than I do already.

I feel for the anorexic girls (and guys, though they are far fewer) because the world looks at them as cases of vanity, when it's about self-loathing. I think it's closer to looking at cutters and saying, "You'd look so much better without those scars." Well, yeah. It's not about that. It's about getting them to stop hating themselves to the degree where they'd inflict so much harm upon themselves.

But just telling them to eat, and expecting that they're physically capable of doing so... it takes a lot more than that.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:25 PM on September 30, 2007


So basically let's encourage ugly people to regulate themselves to the back room.
Schroedinger, you reminded me of an incident I'd filed away in the back of my mind. I was working as the controller for a small steel company. One day I overheard the Boss talking to one of the salesmen, and they were both gushing over the gorgeous new receptionist across the hall at another company. My boss said, "You know, that's the smart way to do business. Put the prettiest girls in the front office, and the ugly ones in the back." As he spoke, I looked around my office which was buried back at the very end of the corridor, and of which Boss encouraged me to keep my door closed (he said it would keep me from being distracted.)
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:09 PM on September 30, 2007


Except that alcoholism is a physical addiction and alcohol is addictive

But the physical dependence is the least problematic aspect of addiction. If that weren't so, then alcoholics and addicts would simply have to detox once, and they'd never have to go there again. In reality, they relapse over and over again because addiction, like anorexia, solves an existential problem for the addict.

Willpower. Overcome those feelings, pick up the sandwich, eat it.

If they could do that, they wouldn't be anorexics, would they? It's their inability to do what you suggest that defines the disease/disorder.

I'd say I know about the same. I don't understand it, but neither do they.

You're not reading enough or reading the wrong books. But I'm not unsympathetic, TheOnlyCoolTim. I used to suffer from selective reading disorder when it came to my pet theories as well. The best cure for it is getting off your arse and actually listening to a wide range of people who have the condition you're trying to get a handle on. And when I say listen, I don't mean 'listen, while mentally discarding accounts that conflict with my theory'. I mean genuinely listen with an open mind. When you've stopped selecting out those cases that don't meet your hypothesis, you'll come to find that the scientific literature actually does a fairly good job of describing the phenomenon and has passable empirical data on what works and what doesn't.

And guess what? Your proposed treatment regime is one of those that doesn't.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:13 AM on October 1, 2007


But in all seriousness, give me a fucking break. I mean I realize sometimes beautiful women get the dumb blonde thing or are only valued for their looks, but overall our society rewards youth and beauty like nothing else. Occasionally, being questioned about being anorexic because you are 5'8 and 100 pounds, seems like a pretty small price to pay.

What an idiotic thing to say. Let’s see. People’s reactions to how anorexics look is of disgust, fear, sickness, etc. Being questioned as to whether one is anorexic makes you realise that people must feel this way when they see you. So people are disgusted when you walk by. Well, fuck. I’ll just sit in my room to keep your innocent eyes from being soiled then, shall I?

You want this apparently beautiful body of mine? Then here, have it, please. Then I can go on with life without being constantly likened to a 12 year old boy. I mean, what the fuck. There are differing standards of beauty, y'know. I rarely ever hear someone say they find a model beautiful or hot but most people seem to agree that's the case in regards to FHM pin-up's and the like. Being 5'8 and 100 pounds? Does not an FHM centrefold make. I'm sorry I don't have womanly curves or womanly breasts or womanly anything, clearly. Because I'm told I'm not womanly then I must not be a woman, right?

What's this obsession with defining what a woman is ? Isabelle is a woman even if she's so sickening you can't click on the link, even if her breasts are practically non-existent. I know, I probably sound like a white person moaning on about reverse racism but jesus christ on a crutch we do not all live in this fantasy world that you believe thin people to inhabit.

And now I’m going to go and eat a cheeseburger. Thank you.
posted by liquorice at 3:00 AM on October 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


And now I’m going to go and eat a cheeseburger.

Go you!
posted by Wolof at 4:56 AM on October 1, 2007


Jesus. Change the damn title. Honestly. It wasn't even SLIGHTLY written with the intent that has been placed upon it.

Here's a thought... why not actually pay attention to the post itself? You know, where the links and actual story are?

Or just fix the damn thing and make it say whatever you want.

posted by miss lynnster at 6:39 AM on October 1, 2007


I debated with myself as to whether or not to post to this thread. But seeing a lot of the misinformation here, not to mention the downright hostility and accusations, I decided I needed to, just to help myself. I apologize for the length, but I have quite a bit to say on the matter. Hopefully it will provide some insight. I'm putting myself out there, and if you decide to be an ass-hat and rag on me for it, let me give you a preemptive "fuck you".

The fashion industry may have played some part in the encouragement of anorectic and bulimic practices by glorifying and fetishizing thinness, but the seed, the real instigator, is inside that person.

I've been struggling with eating disorders for a long time. I strayed across the lines of normal eating, anorexia, and bulimia so much that I don't know anything else. It's normal to me to not eat one day, eat and then purge, and then have a healthy dinner. I can't diet - I take it to the extremes. I will run until I pass out just to make sure I can cancel out the calories from a glass of orange juice. I will throw up that granola bar. I will starve myself for a week and call it a diet. I have no concrete concept of healthy eating as a result. My emotions play too much into it.

It's not about vanity. It's about control. I started at a time in my life where I controlled nothing, save for what I put in my body. My body began to reflect how I felt, and for a long time I thought the smaller I was the easier I was to miss. I didn't deserve attention, I deserved to be ignored, and I sure as hell didn't deserve the food I could have eaten. After time, that self-loathing becomes more focused: I am fat. I am ugly. Others hating you is one thing, it's when you begin to hate yourself, and forget that at one point you really liked something, anything, about your body, but now that's ugly too. When you look in the mirror, all you see is a fat, hideous creature staring back. Even if you weigh 110, 90, 68lbs, whatever, you don't see that. You just see what's ugly. Which is why it's easy for anorectic and bulimic people to just not see that their teeth are loose, or their hair is falling out, or skin has become yellow. It's what has always been there. I can't afford a nose job. But at least something is being done about being so god damned fat.

It's understandable to tell someone to eat when they clearly need it. Hell, I've done it to other people with eating disorders. Don't change the title. miss lynnster, there's nothing wrong with it. It's a conditioned response: someone is suffering, I must help them. The problem with this comes from the "eat a cheeseburger crowd". They don't realize anorexics don't see what you see, and simply eating a sandwich does not treat the real problem, it only makes it worse. Sometimes, you take it the wrong way: they are telling me to eat that cheeseburger because I am ugly and I might as well give up anyway. It's a very vicious way to live. Compliments and suggestions to do this or eat that become daggers and obstacles. You distort the other person into being a controlling abuser, trying to take away that sense of satisfaction and absolute control over your body by making you eat. So you starve yourself more. Passing out from not eating is a victory. Eating a piece of bread is a major loss.

The starving is addictive in and of itself. After a few days, it's almost a euphoria. You haven't eaten and it actually feels good. For once in a long time, you feel good about something you have done. In comes the cliched mantra of the ana-mia set: "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels." And the problem is, that with this mindset, it's true. With bulimia, it's frenzied eating, and then the satisfaction of the purge. With anorexia, it feels about a million times better than eating. You create complex rules for when and what you do eat, "safe" foods that you can eat. You become well versed in a little tips and tricks. Instinctively you know that secrecy is the key. You pretend to have just eaten a full meal, or break a few eggs and throw away the shells and dirty a pan to "prove" to have eaten scrambled eggs. Or run the water on full blast to cover the sounds of gagging quietly in the bathroom after dinner. You become so good with secrets. In short, it just becomes a normal part of your life. You justify it in strange ways: I'm saving so much money on not buying food. I have a lot of free time now that I used to spend stuffing my face. Or you tell yourself it's temporary, and once you get what you want out of it you can stop.

But once you start, you never really finish. You can get treatment and have the ability to eat a meal. But always in the back of your mind is the fact that you ate and you didn't deserve it, and all those thoughts of hate come flooding back. The urge to throw it up later, even if it's just a little bit, or not eat for just a day or two to make up for it is present with every bite. It all boils down to the control and the self-loathing. You just tell yourself "this is how I'll fix it".

Isabelle's bravery - and it is bravery, for someone with feelings of self-hate that most people cannot even come close to comprehending - is very inspiring. I wouldn't worry about it becoming thinspiration, however. From my experience, the set that uses thinspiration and posts pictures of themselves and their rib cages on their live journals are only toying with the idea of having the disease. They look at it as a tool to be popular, get attention, wear that pair of trousers, become cool, in short, the antithesis of the underlying reason for the disorder.

I've been "recovered" twice now, and I still daydream about how good it felt to starve, how nice it would be to purge. But I didn't get where I was then and where I am now by simply "deciding not to eat" and then "deciding to eat". Anyone who suggests that you can just stop is ignorant and misinformed. You can't just stop being schizophrenic, you can't just stop suicidal thoughts, you can't just stop hating yourself. It never goes away, even if you've decided you want it to.
posted by sephira at 7:02 AM on October 1, 2007 [18 favorites]


Thinking this way has worked great for me

Then clearly, it ought to work great for everyone! Since everyone is exactly like you!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:07 AM on October 1, 2007


Excellent ad about the barrage of low self esteem/body contempt messages directed towards females of all ages.
posted by nickyskye at 2:40 PM on October 1, 2007


thank you, Sephira. You're very brave too. Good luck with the journey.
posted by Wilder at 4:15 AM on October 2, 2007


Sweet fucking christ, has TheOnlyCoolTim ever known anyone with an honest-to-god problem?

Hey, I'm burdened by generations of mental disorders and have been raised in a family where we don't acknowledge that, but hey, my willpower is going to let me know it's acceptable to go get pills! Gay? Oh man, come right out of that closet, because it's logical to ignore judgmental relatives because they're not intelligent! Never mind the fact that it'd upset my entire life, I need to exercise willpower!

Anorexic? You should be able admit that to yourself, and others! And seek help, even if your immediate family and friends are not present! Just get your emaciated frame down to the doctor, because you've got health insurance, right?

Sometimes it takes outside help, sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom, and sometimes it takes involuntary commitment. Yes, the self-motivated rational thought process is truly amazing, but there are many people who are physically and mentally incapable of kicking off that process and it's asinine to beat your chest and belittle what actually is a struggle for them.
posted by mikeh at 12:56 PM on October 2, 2007


And after having read sephira's post, I realize that any real account speaks volumes more than my vitriol. Thank you for sharing your story.
posted by mikeh at 1:01 PM on October 2, 2007


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