It’s estimated by the National Eating Disorder Association that ten million American women have an eating disorder. But even that statistic may be false; for there are many who won’t get help or even admit to themselves that they have one. Eating disorders don’t get the attention they deserve; it’s as if people know they exist but they don’t understand anything about them. I personally have suffered from Anorexia. I was hospitalized and admitted into a treatment center for two months, in which I acquired the strength to embrace recovery. Through my experience, I have discovered that most people are ignorant about Anorexia and Bulimia. And I feel it’s my obligation to show people through words and photographs what they’re really like.
Anorexia Nervosa is defined as a psychiatric disorder characterized by irrational fear of weight gain, self-starvation, and a warped body perception. Individuals suffering from this disease are terrified of eating and are convinced that if they do, they’ll become grossly overweight. The very thing that keeps them alive disgusts them.
Bulimia Nervosa is a disorder in which individuals consume a large amount of food and “purge” it through vomiting, exercising, or laxatives. Bulimia is similar to Anorexia since victims suffer from the fear of food and weight gain. However, Bulimia is often considered the opposite of Anorexia, for instead of abstaining from food, they indulge in it. Having experienced a little bit of both (my official diagnosis was Anorexia purge type), both have similar psychological affects. These behaviors are self-induced which is why it’s a common misconception that those with eating disorders can just “stop” their behavior. However, victims develop a dependency on their self-destructive actions. It empowers them and brings solace; even though at the same time, it disintegrates their self-worth.
Eating disorders develop for a myriad of reasons because they affect individualistic people. It’s widely accepted that the diseases result due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Those with relatives that have eating disorders are more likely to develop one. Some other causes for eating disorders are: the need to control, low self-esteem, addictive personalities, black-and-white mentalities, perfectionism, stress, a chaotic home life, anxiety provoking transitions (puberty, moving, ect.), and the media.
We live in a media saturated world. Everyday girls are bombarded with images of women they should aspire to look and be like. There are products for concealing every flaw imaginable: wrinkles, cellulite, acne, ect. Women are constantly objectified as beautiful and sexual beings, not real people with thoughts and feelings. In my opinion, we have lost our souls in this industrial technological world. Values are warped and priorities are skewed. We are a society obsessed with beauty and many will do anything to obtain it.
Ultimately, my goal for this photo series is to deglamourize eating disorders. They are wretched diseases that are not glorifying or rewarding. They extinguish your will to live, render you a hollow shell of your former self, and blind you from the truth. You become your own worst enemy. I am tired of witnessing girls struggling from something that isn’t worth it. I want people to love themselves for whom they are, not for how they look.
Your limbs flail wildly above your head as she jerks at the strings attached to your body. You are her circus puppet and devote yourself entirely to pursuing her every whim and desire. You do not dare challenge her superiority even though you know she’s slowly killing you. You do not dare sever the tenuous strings that bind you to her like iron chains. You are nothing without her. She breathes life into your limp, cadaverous body. She gives you something to live for, something worthwhile, something that places you on a pedestal of greatness. She whispers encouragement each time you contemplate caving in; praises you each time you lose a bit of weight or skip a meal. She is delighted by the hip bones jutting violently beneath your taut skin. She is your only love; the only one you’re utterly faithful to. You need her and she thrives of your devotion. She substitutes everything you lack. She fills your dismal void with purpose. And because of this, you are forever indebted to her.
Every day you trace each bone with tender admiration. The jab of your elbow, the protruding collar bone, and the deep indents in your knees all motivate you to continue your crusade for perfection. So rapt are you in the quest for the ideal body, the ideal soul.
Eating is like a sacred ritual. You are very cautious of what passes through your lips. Every morsel of food incites a wave of nausea and fear. Most days, you prefer to eat nothing at all. And soon enough, this becomes very easy. The hunger pangs in your stomach delight you for they are indicators of progress. Once those disappear, you’re convinced you don’t need food at all. You’d much rather prefer to be light on your feet anyway.
Was this perfection? Glimpsing in the mirror, you see thin ratty hair, sunken eyes, and sallow skin. You no longer look human. Instead, you look like a monster, emaciated and emotionally devoid. You’re dying. Yet you can’t stop because she has become engrained in the very fibers of your being. You identify her, worship her. You’ve lost everyone and everything; yet you don’t care. You have her. You are her.
You have no control over your own mind. She infiltrates the crevices of your conscious, dictating your actions and warping your perceptions. And you let her do this because you’ve lost faith in yourself. She haunts you with her chilling demands and pushes you to an unbearable state of madness until you can no longer differentiate between who you used to be and who you are now. And no matter how hard you try to silence her, to expel her from your thoughts, she always remains, reminding you of your inadequacies and failures. She taunts you with promises of a fulfilling future; but what future? Your destiny is in the form of a generic hospital bed where you’re hooked up to IVs and heart monitors, where you’re force fed through a tube if you refuse to eat. What you’re working towards is the ultimate self-destruction; You’re greatest ambition is to die.