I keep coming across these conflicting messages about the significance of the physical body in eating disorders.
Either we’re trying to deny it, obliterate it and become free-floating intellects. Pure, transcendent above the messy, sinful, unruly meat-puppet.
Or…We’re over-valuing our bodies, thinking that if we starve and exercise them to perfection we’ll be perfect people, finally free from worry and able to present ourselves to the world with confidence. We’ve taken on the cultural message that thin = happy or even worse, that thin = the only acceptable shape.
And if we’re not brainwashed by the media and skewed cultural attitudes to bodies, we’re using our bodies as billboards for our inner torment. The emaciation is a big flashing neon sign that Something Is Not Right With Me.
And Yet…We apparently go to such devious lengths to disguise our weightloss, baggy clothes and weights in our underwear when we go to the doctor.
We’re neglecting our bodies and our self-care or we are obsessed with our bodies and their appearance, spending hours at the mirror.
No wonder we have confused feelings about our physicality. The body can be an ascetic temple of perfection or a scary uncontrollable beast, it’s at the centre of our disorder or it’s just a side effect. Doctors tell us we are silly for trying to conform to unattainable standards of beauty we see in magazines, then tell us to gain weight and conform to their standards as seen in BMI charts. As women especially, we really have to fight to take ownership of our bodies. They are sexualised, medicalised and moralised by other people.