Posted in Almost Dorothy, Culture Clash

Almost Dorothy (Almost) Celebrates National Eating Disorders Awareness Week


National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Ma says she has a problem celebrating a week that causes so much pain and suffering in the world. She says we should not celebrate National Eating Disorders Awareness Week because we should embrace it and those who are suffering through it. Ma says it shouldn’t be called a disorder because it makes those who suffer feel disordered. She says it’s a social disease that infects all of us, impacts all of us, even if we don’t think it does.

Ma also says unless we proudly include and embrace men who have eating disorders and all the men who do not have eating disorders in this campaign of awareness, we won’t resolve anything, especially not the perfect setting for toast. (Ma often loses focus.) Ma says it is our male-dominated culture that perpetuates the beauty myth, the myth of bubbles, because men are visual creatures and they measure their value  from the outside in. Beauty becomes a thing we can see and touch. A thing that is attached to a body. Becomes the body. And is expressed through the words I love you.

…what you look like…what you represent…what your body says about me when they look at us in public.

Provocative, ma says, yes! But it’s true.

FYI #1: Ma says she would have never gotten two boobs if it wasn’t for her first boyfriend. Wouldn’t have laser-removed her body hair if it wasn’t for her second boyfriend. And wouldn’t have removed her penis if it wasn’t for her third boyfriend. (Re-read, please.)

Ma says true awareness means closing your eyes. True awareness means swallowing the stars from the night sky and looking at true black hanging out behind the full full moonshine. Ma says illumination is the opposite of light. Ma says we have to undress the audience, bring them into the flashlight, and smack them on the ass with whips & chains, so that we (meaning they) can truly get to the bottom (no pun intended) of what disfigures our imagined  bodies. Ma says we are fictional bodies trying to live real fictional lives lived behind and in front of a proscenium of fear and shame.

I think ma is on acid or is experiencing an acid flashback. Just saying. But I’m a firm believer in her power to deliver.

In the documentary film, America the Beautiful, sponsored by the University of Miami Counseling Center’s outreach group BARE (Body Acceptance Resources and Education), it is described in such a way to perpetuate the myth that eating disorders are a.) disorders and b.) a woman’s disease: “we see how…unattainable images contribute greatly to the rise in low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders for young women and girls who also happen to be the beauty industry’s largest consumers.” Ma says its a social disease. The victims are victims like the victim of a gun shot or acid attack.  Count the number of Proactiv, Maybelline and Cover Girl commercials.

I tell ma she shouldn’t attack the documentary and she tells me I should shut up because I don’t know anything about body dysmorphia. I look at ma and she looks at me. I keep looking at her and she keeps looking at me and then I move in just a little closer so that we are face to face–a butter knife couldn’t pass between our noses.

Look ma, I say, what do you see? No face, she says.

Ma faces my no-face and then recalibrates her theory of self-esteem and massive body deconstructionism. I’ll get you a new face, she says, this week. That’s the problem, I say, you see?

Ma looks at my no-face as if she can decode the problems behind it, or inside of it, or on the surface of my blank slate written in Cover Girl hieroglyphics. Ma reaches into her pocketbook and paints lipstick on the spot of my imagined lips. She erases my lips and hands me the lipstick. She encourages me to draw my own lips and the world I live in. Where I want. When I want. I use her compact and mirror myself after her. I use her hand and guide her cosmetic universe across my face. She presses down and kisses the place where I imagine myself the most. In her arms. Somewhere between I love and you.



I'm not real, but I'm a writer.

2 thoughts on “Almost Dorothy (Almost) Celebrates National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

  1. I agree that men with eating disorders are too often overlooked in public discussion of the issue, but I’m not sure I understand what you’re implying with the statement that “eating disorders are not disorders”. Although many young people today may face self-worth issues based on media perpetuation of certain beauty ideals, this is not the same issue as eating disorders (in their diagnostic, historical definition). Anorexia and bulimia have existed much longer than has the current beauty ideal–and in fact since long before psychologists identified them as illnesses. Current research suggests that well over half of an individual’s likelihood of developing an eating disorder is based solely on genetics: anorexia and bulimia are, as much as depression, alcoholism, and bipolar disorder, psychological conditions with genetic, chemical, and individal components.

    As a woman who has lived with anorexia and bulimia for 10 years, I can confidently say that the media and beauty standards have played no role in my disorder. I don’t do this because “society” has influenced me to “perfect my body” or “conform”; I do this out of a complex web of near-uncontrollable psychological compulsions tied to borderline personality disorder, genetics, a need for control, former sexual abuse, and a chemical addiction to the physiological results of starvation and purging. For me–and for the vast majority of others I’ve met through treatment and support groups–this is not at all a social disease, but rather a deeply personal one.

    Not that there’s any one answer to this, of course…and I enjoyed reading your perspective.

    1. I write what I know. You write what you know. Together we add to the dialogue that is too often silenced because of fear, shame and indifference. Thank you for adding you experience to this thread.

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