The coming of Anorexia



Anorexia/bulimia can exploit any number of circumstances in a young woman’s life that are disadvantageous to her. It promises her that by being faithful to the Anorexic regime not only will whatever has been disadvantageous be turned to her advantage; moreover, her life will be her dreams come true. Of course, such a deal is like that with the Devil. It is only after the romance phase during which the promises’ fulfilments seem just around the proverbial corner that the price starts to be exacted.

The romance phase can be very heady indeed. Firstly, the relief from the disadvantageous circumstances can lead to both a short-lived exhilaration and self-absorption as long as the ‘truth’ of Anorexia seems far more rewarding and meritorious than the ‘truth’ of the world around them. If you were to give it some thought, it would not surprise you that just around the time a young woman is beginning to blossom and flower, anorexia would make her acquaintance and make her an offer that almost anyone would find irresistible – the promise of perfect happiness, the enticement of a trouble-free life, the inducement of ‘Perfection’ and the temptations of ‘control’. The terms of such a deal with the Devil are sold by promises, enticements, inducements and temptations that are in line with those cultural specifications for persons, especially those for women.

Anorexia advertises itself as a short-cut to a heaven on earth. The requirements and costs are glossed over at this stage. And even if they were more than alluded to, would it make that much difference? After all, the promises are such a perfect match for the ‘Perfect Woman’. This self-same image is also advertised in so many ways at so many times in so many places. If all the Barbie dolls sold to date were lined up shoulder to shoulder, this imaginary line would encircle the globe three times. Such specifications for a ‘Perfect Woman’ is taken for granted as in the nature of the way things not only are but cannot be otherwise. Because it is one’s nature, it cannot be objected to or refused. The trap is baited and carefully laid in the dark corners of innocent lives. The first steps to a ‘hell on earth’ are painstakingly concealed and the promises look so genuine and apposite on the surface and for the time being.

It is not too long before Anorexia starts exacting what it considers to be its due. Your side of the bargain! And the dues to be paid are very taxing indeed. But for some time yet, many women still charmed by Anorexia and its promised land are beguiled into paying back. Anorexia’s demand increase. It becomes more and more onerous to meet your repayments. The promises will only be delivered when ‘Perfection’ is done. Anorexia now starts its chastisements – ‘You are not trying hard enough!’ ‘I just know you are capable of meeting my demands!’ ‘I know you are capable of it if only you would be more disciplined, etc’. These accusations are still made under the guise of seductive benevolence as they are still on friendly terms – ‘You are very special to me!’ ‘They don’t know you as I know you!’ ‘They are jealous of us!’ This does not endure for long as these young women fall farther and farther behind. What once sounded like well-intentioned whispered suggestions become strident demands, rules and regulations. What was congenial and colleagial becomes castigating and belittling accusations, most notably ‘you are worthless, lazy, fat and ugly’. Or ‘if you really love me, you will do what I tell you and be what I tell you!’ The romance curdles as Anorexia introduces the young woman to the horrifying images of themselves and terrifying threats. Anorexia’s vocabulary is limited but cruelly demeaning. It has struck the very Achilles heel of a young woman’s identity claims. Anorexia is now the arbiter of her very thought, gesture and action. She is now in the thrall of her judge, jury and executioner, all rolled up into one.

A woman can only entertain her Anti-Anorexia when she becomes consciously aware of the impossibly high physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and relationship costs of continuing any allegiance to an Anorexic life-style (also known as death-style). By now the enchantment with Anorexia may have soured but the debt to It has now doubled, trebled and quadrupled. Enough is just never good enough! The prospect of ever becoming debt-free becomes more and more remote and ultimately improbable. The heady days of the romance are long gone, even if their recollections and memories are vivid and sustaining. Servitude takes its place which Anorexia dresses up as a martyrdom for its cause. Inexorably abject subjection cannot be disguised any longer.

Anorexia does not transport its inmates to its concentration camps, which for some time are invisible even to their inmates. Rather Anorexia takes young women paternally by their hand and walks them down to their cells. It assures them that this really is the anteroom to their palace. And once ‘perfection’ is achieved, anorexia will awaken them like a fairy tale princess. Sooner or later, they become disillusioned. No suffering is sufficient. ‘Suffer more!’ It commands them. They are no longer enchanted but not enough for them to be fully aware that they have been cruelly betrayed and their innocence exploited. After all, their very wishes and dreams were used for the very purposes of ensnaring them. Their desires to remake their worlds or stop its violence against them, others or women in general is summed up, not in resistance to or repudiation of their worlds but by seeking what Anorexia has guaranteed – ‘Control’ over them.

Anorexia is aware of their potential for resistance and deceives these women by assuring them that such resistance can be most adequately expressed by turning against their very own desires, concerns, appetites, opinions, etc. It revises their missions and renames it ‘control’. Anorexia requires such ‘control’ be achieved in perfect measure and revises them for not measuring up. If Anorexia does tell what measure a young woman must measure up to and if by chance she does, It merely increases the measure out of her reach. Not so far for the abandonment of hope but rather tantalisingly near.

Anorexia will persist with this without abatement until the only option is self-execution to make amends. This is the only absolution of their guilt for failing ‘Perfection’ and ‘controlling’ their natures. These young women are justifiably confounded as to how such promises have led them to ‘death row’ as are those who care for and about these young women and love them.

The disenchantment becomes complete when they see through the paradox of so-called ‘control’. For the harder they aspire to be ‘in control’, the greater they experience themselves as out of their ‘control’ and in Anorexia’s. The occupation of their minds, bodies and souls becomes more and more secure. However, they now know for certain that Anorexia has usurped their lives and imprisoned them but may not know why.

There has been no due process of law. It is almost as if they are justifiably incarcerated on the grounds that they are not free. And for this reason, ‘I am not allowed to be happy’. Anorexia declares them to be the guilty party, unworthy of human association, despite the fact that these innocent women are often unaware of their crimes, save their failure to shape up the the shape Anorexia demands them to take.

Anorexia now commands them to divest themselves of remnants of their personhood, stripping them naked while insisting that they are nothing more than body bits, a ‘no body, an object of other’s scrutiny and surveillance’. No bodily gesture, no thought or reflection is private or unobservable. They now ‘see myself through men’s eyes’. They are now their own ‘object’ and nothing can be hidden from Anorexia’s ‘watch’. Everyday/everynight life is given over to confessing her sins with Anorexia hearing her. She is so abject in her apologies but she is never met with compassion by Anorexia but merely reiteration of her requirements before It’s ‘truth’, ‘morality’ and ‘reason’.

After having been rendered into ‘no bodies’, their bodies that are not good enough, their penance is set as self-mortification of their flesh. They are informed that they deserve no more or no less than their own violation. Their torturing can now go ahead without torturers. Absolution becomes self-starvation or exercising to death, the only way to settle one’s account with one’s body.

At the same time, they know, when their minds are their own, that they have been colonised by a tyranny at times beyond their belief. The colonization of their minds, however, is completed when these young women identify themselves as Anorexia which ventriloquizes their every utterance and pulls the strings on every movement they make. Anorexia’s policy of genocide is cunningly disguised as ‘extermination by exploitation’, the covert intention of which is to make these young women’s lives ‘living deaths’. By doing so, these women will seek their own deaths and go to it relieved of the horror of their lives.

It is often at this point that women confront a dilemma – going to their inevitable fate of self-execution or making a commitment to oppose and repudiate Anorexia.

It is now these young women can start breaking themselves free of Anorexia along with the comradeship of family, friends, loves and fellow League members. But be warned, acknowledging that you are in an anorexic ‘cell’ and that the debt that has incited unrelenting guilt has no substance either in law or morality does not make the walls crumble or dissolve. Such women cannot just pick up what remains of them and their lives and walk free. I am afraid there is much more to it than that.