Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Proto-anorexia: My mandated aspiration

I sometimes watch Supersize v. Superskinny.

This should come under the tag "guilty pleasure", except I don't feel guilty about it. It is undoubtedly so stupid at times as to almost give physical pain, that doesn't stop it from being thought provoking and interesting.

Looking past much of the nonsense to gain insight in to people's varied relationships with food and to hear the established views on food and weight put forward in a relatively civil way. Something that fat haters struggle with.

The ludicrous title is misleading as it's more about juxtaposing than versus. The two central protagonists, one a fat person who usually eats a heck of a lot, and the other, a slender person who in the main eats a hell of a little exchange diets in order to bring about a confrontation with their food issues. Mostly, they seem more sympa to each other, rarely are they in any sense in opposition.

That's good, because that is the truth, one eating disorder is the much the same as any other, it's the form it takes that differs.
I usually tend to avoid saying that people over/undereat. The terms have a pretended objectivity they don't posses and have become so devalued by over/misuse.They tend to be used to insult rather than describe.

What struck me the most about yesterday's episode was noticing that a recent awareness has crept up on me and come to a head. Apart from the main protagonists, they have a running section on a group of about five people with anorexia (PWA), trying to overcome their condition.

I've realised how my feelings about anorexia have altered. I no longer see it as something to do with anorexics, but more as a lifestyle that I should be living. That change is crucial, because fat people are supposed to live this way and not complain about it. It serves us right, if it does bring suffering. Whereas that same behaviour in someone who is shedding weight is seen to some degree, sympathetically. Although this is too often fanciful in the extreme. Because of this, a lot of these behaviours no longer "belong" to them in a way they once might have seemed to.

I've never been troubled by the envious feelings that a lot of people have toward people with anorexia. It seems that people think they get a better deal and more sympathy than others.

My first memory of this kind of thing was when I was barely into my teens, years ago, before anorexia was much known about past a cursory grasp.

A school friend, who like my self was fat at the beginning of the obesity curve, said on hearing someone mention anorexia, "Oh I wish I could get that".

I felt as if the air had formed itself into a big hand and slapped it into my gut.
Even though I burned to be thin, never would I ever want to have anorexia, full stop.
Some of this altered view must be to do with the stark realisation that weight loss dieting is a form of anorexia. No matter what anyone says, I cannot see how it differs in any real way except the dynamic of a set of behaviours that becomes more than the sum of it's parts-anorexia.

I have had an issue for a long time with the fact that activists insisted on separating anorexia from dieting, saying it trivialised the condition. When really what it helped to do was to trivialise the devastation that weight loss dieting can wreak, delaying realisations and helping to prolong suffering that could have been stopped given a chance to better perceive and understand it sooner.

Although to be fair, fat people paying better attention to themselves could have done, just as well. Hence the source of a lot of envy amongst fat people for a lot of other groups who have stood up for their own integrity a whole lot better than we seem to, mostly.

I daresay, anorexics themselves have paid a price for that decision too, I'm sure there condition would have been easier to understand if the precursor to their condition had not been severed. It's a continuum and anorexic behaviour doesn't belong to them anymore now that so many of us are pressured into trying to turn it into a lifestyle. But then, why would people need a potentially unsustainable amount of sympathy to rely on to assist them? Does one have to be overly sympathetic to wish to help a person? Or is it about raising the profile of the condition?

There's also the fact that a lot of the things PWA do that makes up their condition, are things that a lot of fatter people do or are made to feel if they aren't doing they are bad or failures. So whilst they complain about the suffering of their ways, I'm just seeing what I'm supposed to be doing, exactly.

Physical activity to earn the right to eat, see MeMe Roth, careful monitoring of (small)portions, either this food or that and so on.

If I lived the way they lived, I would be seen as a successful dieter, if my body co-operated and shed weight, if it didn't, I'd be seen as a liar and a failure. The difference is an individual bodies capacity to yield, for the usual defences to fail or be overwhelmed by the efforts.

There maybe more to it than they're showing, laxative abuse and purging isn't mentioned, but I wonder if you need to do those things to suffer if your body obliges and sheds weight and starts to eat its muscles up.

It makes me wonder how much the condition is a whole body process, that a starving body is part of the diagnosis. Things have been said about fat anorexics, and whether they exist-in the same way as thin ones do.

For instance, when some is under duress and they gain weight, it's seen by most as purely a result of the palliating effects of overeating or eating certain kinds of foods, or even as a metabolic response to the stress itself. What is left out is the fat, the actual weight itself and what that is doing, independent of those other factors.

For all we know, that could be most important of all. If so, then a fat person could not really be described as an anorexic in the same way, because their weight/ metabolic activity, may be stopping them from experiencing full symptoms of the condition. Which is sometimes the purpose of fat in general, to defend, protect, most of all, to maintain balance.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, I forgot to add my e-mail to my profile, I've done that if any one wants to get in touch.