Art and Anorexia Nervosa

Athena wrote:

Ouch. Having a close friend affected by anorexia, I understand the reasoning behind wanting to get information out there for people. I just thought you would like provide nothing but legitimate information for people, so much that you would like to be aware of even something as simple as a photo is not what you’re asking people to believe what it is. It is the following image..

Which is featured on the page

With this text referring to it..

Click on the photo on the left if you wish to see a larger version with better resolution.  If that is not enough to convince you of the extents aficionados of anorexia nervosa will go, have a look at the website from which the photo was copied (archived file).

Here is the email of the person who is believed to have altered the linked to image and many others..

Again, I just thought that you wouldn’t want to rely on “maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t” when providing valuable information.

My dad never takes that sort of tone with me, especially when all that I was offering was what I thought was helpful. :/



Let’s concentrate on what you wish to achieve for your friend, not so much on what you assume is the intention of the anorexia-nervosa pages at Fathers for Life.

Let’s assume that there truly is such a friend whom you worry about and that your “friend” is not in reality you.  Let’s further assume that the image that concerns you is truly an altered image.  Let’s also assume that it was altered so as to make the particular anorexic look ugly.

Would an image that makes an anorexic look ugly and that brings out the full horror of the ugliness of anorexia nervosa not help your friend more than an image that makes the impact of anorexia nervosa look more benign?  By my reckoning it would.  Furthermore, with respect to your goal of helping your friend, an image that makes an anorexic look ugly is worth more than an image that doesn’t.  That is applied art that focuses on and emphasizes the truth.  Why are you bothered by the truth?  Don’t you like the truth?

With reference to your friend and the allusion to danger that anorexia nervosa poses to her and to other anorexics like her, anorexia nervosa is not a great danger to those who choose to be afflicted by it.  Perhaps you should also read the text of the anorexia nervosa pages in which the picture of concern to you is contained, so as to understand all of the details regarding the mortality rates of anorexics.

One snow flake doesn’t make a winter, and one picture of an anorexic does not constitute all that was posted at Fathers for Life about anorexia nervosa.  If you accept what has been quoted there from credible and reputable sources, your conclusion will unavoidably be that your friend is not in any danger at all.

Killing oneself through self-starvation in the midst of plenty is somewhat like attempting to kill oneself through holding one’s breath.  In the latter case one may fall unconscious but will commence breathing again as soon as one is unconscious.  Similarly, anorexics will always eat enough to keep themselves alive, otherwise they would die within about seven weeks or less after commencing their diet plan.  That, of course, is true only of the majority of anorexics who became anorexics by choice.  There is a small number of anorexics who are legitimately anorexic on account of specific medical conditions.

If a particular anorexic looks like a walking skeleton, and if she enjoys having that appearance, why not let her do what she wants?  It won’t do her much harm other than that she won’t be able to do as much physical work as a normal person can, and that she quite likely will have difficulty thinking clearly and logically (which may be the case with you, as you obviously have problems forming complete. logical and comprehensible sentences).  However, that would be critical only if she holds a job in whose performance she will endanger the lives of others, such as being a nurse, an airplane pilot or a taxi driver.  So, unless she is employed in such a critical job, if she wants to look ugly and offensive to others, is that not her own business and no-one else’s?

The average life expectancy of anorexics is no worse than that of other people.  That means that anorexia nervosa is not a deadly habit, even though it does cause some extent of mental impairment but not likely any lasting brain damage.  Once an anorexic cures herself from her addiction by resuming normal eating habits, her mental aberrations with regard to her self-image cease.

Your friend will without a doubt feel comfortable on account of having you worry about her.  Moreover, she will do all she can to keep up the level of concern others have for her.  If it takes excessive dieting or self-starvation to do that, she will keep on doing that or even do it increasingly more intensely in her attempts to earn the emotional rewards she seeks.  Moreover, if her friends become bored with giving her continued attention and expressions and signs of sympathy, your friend will devise strategies whereby she can replace those friends who don’t measure up to her expectations with new ones that pay her the homage she seeks.

Lastly, here is an observation regarding your playing-the-victim card (“My dad never takes that sort of tone with me…”).  If you wish to be treated as a fully capable adult, don’t play the victim card.  Accept full responsibility for what you say and do, and don’t try to evoke sympathy for you in others because they allegedly don’t behave like you say your dad does.  When someone tells you the truth, don’t be offended by it and don’t expect that others will spoil you like your dad does.  If you dad likes spoiling you, that is his business, not mine.

Anorexics look for sympathy.  They hope to create sympathy by making themselves look starved.  You are looking for sympathy by alleging that I don’t treat you like your dad does.  Are you anorexic?

I have grandchildren that are as old or perhaps even older than you are.  None of them pout like you do.  Those that did soon learned to do otherwise.  Are you fully grown up or do you still have a long way to go?

It is primarily teen-aged girls that go out of their way to become anorexics.  Normal adults are far too busy living and enjoying real life to be able to afford wasting any time in their lives by succumbing out of boredom to introversive fads like anorexia nervosa.


Walter Schneider

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