Dying to be skinny – a privilege?

I was horrified to read the June edition of Marie Claire magazine’s article by Georgia HaniasAnorexia: the epidemic Japan refuses to face up to.

The article highlights the lack of medical support for sufferers of eating disorders in Japan, with the wait to see a specialist approximately seven years. There are other speculative claims made in the article regarding the pressures of living up to the ideals of Japanese manga-style schoolgirl figures, and the difficulties associated with living in a generally less emotive and sympathetic society – but I am by no means an authority on the subject, and there are some equally compelling arguments for why the article should be taken with a pinch of salt made by Japan Probe and Haikugirl.

But it did really get me thinking. Not only about what a privilege it is to live in a country where medical treatment is available, but also to live in a country where you can actually choose to starve yourself.

I’m not saying the medical systems of the countries that I’ve lived in are perfect – of course you hear horror stories. But I have certainly never heard of anyone waiting seven years for a consultation with a specialist.

Nor am I belittling those with eating disorders. I understand that it is a very real, very dangerous illness, and you just have to read some of the statistics included in the article to fully appreciate the severity of the issue in the UK:

  • 1.6 million people suffer from an eating disorder
  • 1 in 100 women aged between 15 and 30 has anorexia
  • Around five percent of anorexia cases will be fatal

However, when 792 million people in the world as recently as the year 2000 were affected by chronic food deficits, it is difficult to reconcile the idea of not appreciating the value of food.

It is scary to think that the world we live in can exert so much influence and pressure on people to look and feel a certain way. I can only hope we put as much stock on complimenting each other, and making sure we build each other’s self esteem up as we do on “looking good”.

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3 thoughts on “Dying to be skinny – a privilege?

  1. Interesting facts – when you spell out 1 in 100 women aged between 15 – 30 years, i can’t help but apply that closer to home … say if you have approx 500 friends in your social network, that’s statistically 5 potential friends at risk … well of course, adjusting for proportion of male/female/age …

    Of course, it’s no where near cancer rates, but to think … 5 people i know could be potentially people who are actively starving …

    As recent media coverage more accurately explores, it’s not likely a starvation to conform to a particular body image per se, but related to a whole host of other psychosocial needs. Despite all the materialistic resourcefulness and technological advances, there are still fundamental human needs that remain in society at large. How do we become more empathetic to others, and take up courage to honestly reach out ourselves?

    It does lead me on to think: What other needs do we mask over in everyday life by creating another need?…

  2. Okay, So I was going to leave a reply about how Anorexia is more about how one is psychologically unbalanced… however, when typing ‘Anorex’ into google, the forth thing that came down underneath the search bar was… ‘Anorexia Tips’.
    At first thought, I was under the assumption that these ‘tips’ would be ones that were guiding/helping suffers, by offering mental counselling, people to speak to etc…
    However they are actual ‘tips’ in how to be Anorexic; how to starve yourself, how to look at food, how to punish yourself when eating food…

    13. Follow the “Thin Commandments”
    If you aren’t thin, you’re ugly.
    Being thin is way more important than being healthy.
    You must do anything to make yourself look thinner.
    Thou shall not eat without feeling guilty.
    Thou shall not eat fattening foods without punishing yourself accordingly.
    Thou shall always count calories.
    The scale is everything.
    Losing=Life, Gaining=Death
    You must become thin.
    Being thin and perfect are signs of true determination.

    Some say the internet is a good thing… not today.

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