Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This Documentary Broke My Heart

Today I watched an HBO documentary called Thin. And then I cried.

What struck me the most, more than the shock that these 80-to-90 pound women thought they were fat, was that everyone in the "community" of the treatment center looked so normal. Apart from the extremely low weights which, for some of them, didn't seem that low, these women looked just like any other women on the street. A little too skinny, sure, but I don't think that anyone who didn't know them would immediately think "Oh, she's anorexic." (Or bulimic)

I cried for the millions of women walking around with eating disorders everyday. Women who can't or won't or don't go to a treatment facility. I cried because maybe no one will ever know or care or do anything about this huge number of women who are starving themselves for no reason other than to fit our society's definition of thin.

Who made up these rules anyway? Being thin used to mean you were poor, working-class and undesirable. Malnourished. A healthy weight was an indicator of. . .health.

Now what does it mean if you're thin? 
You can fit into the best clothes, you are maybe sexily damaged (a cigarette smoker, drug addict or non-eater) and a little wild. You might be described in a magazine as "frail" or "tiny" the way Mary-Kate Olsen sometimes is. You want to be "bird-like" and "petite." Who doesn't?
Somewhere along the line, American society (with the help of Europe) made it cool to starve. What's up with that?

Women are stopping themselves from eating, throwing up every meal and working out 8 times a week until their periods stop and they become like one of the women in the documentary: "...twenty-eight and a little girl." Hair falls out, pulse and body temperature drops, liver and kidney functions go to hell. Not sexy. Not at all.

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