Saturday, July 19, 2008

Accused of anorexia

This morning I read yet another news story that described yet another celebrity "accused" of anorexia. That's the word the news story used: accused.

And it made me wonder. It's not the first time I've read this and it won't be the last. We accuse people of crimes, of transgressions, of doing wrong. Is having anorexia a crime?

I think the word choice speaks worlds about how we see eating disorders: as choices made to get attention, to punish others, to--fill in the blanks. For all our talk about eating disorders as diseases, we still--and by we I mean the culture at large--see them as manipulative choices people make.

When I read a story like this, I wonder what those who make such "accusations" are thinking. Is it something like "Aha, I caught you!" Do they feel superior to celebrities who might be ill with eating disorders?

The same magazines and newspapers that trumpet such accusations, of course, also report obsessively on every pound that celebrities, especially women, gain and lose. They write headlines about women who lose their baby fat 2 weeks after giving birth--as if this was not only a natural but a desirable state of affairs.

So the message is what? Be very thin, but not too thin? Where is the invisible line separating good-thin from bad-thin? If being thin is such a necessary condition, why is being too thin a crime?

Food for thought on a how summer's day.