When I was going through my miserable and prolonged case of second book blues, my Mom found this photo of me on a family sailing trip in the Caribbean, circa 1977:
As a forty-something year old woman, my first thought upon seeing that picture was, "Wow! I had a pretty good figure back then."
But within seconds - and I mean SECONDS - other, less kind thoughts kicked in. The thoughts of the girl in the picture. A voice that said, "Fat. Ugly. Fat. Fat. Defective. Fat. Fat. Damaged. Fat. Fat. Fat. Fat. Fat. Useless. Fat. Fat. Fat. Fat. Ugly. Fat. Fat.Fat." I could go on, but you get the idea, and why torture us?
This was despite years, and I mean YEARS of therapy. After distorted body image and disordered eating in high school manifested itself into years of active bulimia as an adult in my thirties.
I took that photograph with me to the writing retreat, Kindling Words, where Ellen Wittlinger was leading a workshop on Inspiration. It became the basis for my second novel, PURGE.
In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Millions more are struggling with binge eating disorder
Eating Disorders are complex conditions can kill. But even when they don't, the effect on our lives are overwhelming and painful.
Not only that - when I look back and think of how much energy I wasted - WASTED - worrying and stressing and obsessing about my weight - energy that I could have put to more positive use like - well, writing. Or learning to play the bass so I can be the John Paul Jones of my nursing home. Or tap dancing, because I always wanted to be able to do that Ginger Rogers thing, and now if I even mention the possibility of taking tap classes my daughter gives me the "OMG, you are The. Most. Embarrassing. Person. Alive!" look.
Here are some great YA books that deal with body image/eating disorders:
WINTERGIRLS - by Laurie Halse Anderson
NOTHING - by Robin Friedman
FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN'T HAVE - Alan Zadoff
SKIN - Adrienne Marie Vrettos
SWEETHEARTS - Sara Zarr
JANE IN BLOOM - Deborah Lytton
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is February 20-26 2011. Can you think of something to do to raise awareness and start the discussion in your community? And let's not just stop with eating disorders. What about all the ways we mess ourselves up thinking about food and weight. According to NEDA, more than one in three "normal" dieters ends up progressing on to pathological eating. Pretty scary, huh?
For more information and resources, visit the National Eating Disorder Association.
NEDA Helpline: 800 931-2237
I also have a section on eating disorder resources available on my website.