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”.