Anorexia is a nasty eating disorder, and although in the prosperous West there seems to be more fretting about obesity than the other extreme, there is no doubt that people who, for whatever reason, don’t eat enough to protect their health, represent a serious health issue. But as ever, I get irritated at the “victim culture” that is sometimes wittingly or unwittingly promoted in public discussions of the issue. Case in point was earlier this week on the BBC.
The state broadcaster’s morning current affairs show featured a young woman who had almost died as a result of this condition, and some shocking photos were shown. During the course of the discussion with the presenters, the argument from the woman (I did not get the name) was that she had been strongly influenced into her under-eating by a desire to look like the models and actresses seen in glossy magazines and on TV and movies. Such pictures are often enhanced, ergo, such enhancement is evil and there should be a law against such activity so as to prevent impressionable people from being led astray, etc.
At no point did either presenter, or another woman who was representing the modeling industry, say something like this:
“I am very glad you have recovered your health and are eating a proper diet and don’t feel a need to starve yourself to `look good'”. The fact that photos of such supermodels/actresses or whoever might appear to show that it is acceptable to be very thin does not, and should not undercut your own responsibility for your health. You have a mind, so use it. You have free will; you are not a piece of clay in the hands of the advertising industry, the movie business, or modelling agencies. You are an attractive young person who can, and should, think for yourself. Finally, curves on women are fabulous, and anyone who thinks for a second that the opposite sex is turned on by skeletons needs their head examined. So take charge of your life, and don’t expect the State to censor things because you lacked self-control earlier in your life. Thanks for appearing on our show and now let’s go over to Carole for the weather forecast.”
But they didn’t say that. Pity.