Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Go Ask Alice?

I was talking to my niece recently, who is just finishing up her freshman year of High School. She was reading "Go Ask Alice". Did any of you read these fake annonymous books back in the day? Remember the horror with which you followed her decent from a 'good girl' to a 'druggie', remember how quickly it seemed to all go wrong? I never read "My Name is Davy, and I'm an Alcoholic", but I'm assuming it's pretty similar in that way, as was the anorexia horror, "Goodbye, Paper Doll". What is it about teenagers that makes them so fascinated with reading about others who are dealing with tragedy? Books about dying siblings, drug use, cutting, date rape, all of these things...they are so popular at that age.

A few years ago, I read a book that reminded me somewhat of these books, called "Wasted". I mentioned this book awhile ago, but it came back to me recently, thinking about these books of horror and self hatred. The protaginist of this memoir lived in our own small town (HA! How it's grown!) as a small child, and mentions the street I drive down to pick Maya up from school, which is maybe how I put "Wasted" and "Go Ask Alice" together in my mind. And what I was thinking about this time, was how quickly Marya Hornbacher (author and protagonist) went from a normal kid to a kid with a full blown eating disorder. It was AMAZING. Like one day, she's somewhat fine, though unhappy with her body, and the next, she's found a solution. I highly reccomend you click on her name, above, and read a bit about her story. It's amazing and scarey. I read another book that had a similar theme a bit later, called "Stick Figure". In this book, the author, Lori Gottlieb, talks about her own eating disorder, and how quickly it came on, and how serious it was for her. Lori and Marya's stories are depressingly similar, and they both note how obsessed their mothers were with their weight, and how controlling their fathers were as well. They both note how obsessed our entire culture is with weight, and how much pressure is placed on girls to be thin, above all else. A recent poll in the U.K. stated that many parents would rather have their daughters suffer from anorexia than be fat. (I found reference to this on bigfatblog.com, but no link to an actual study...cannot discern if this is real or not, so for the point of my argument, I will assume that there are indeed such sick individuals in the world, especially since the world seems to have its fair share of sick individuals running around.) I would like these parents to sit down and talk to Marya and Lori, or to anyone who suffers from this horrid disease. People who have ruined their bodies in some ways forever, damaged their inner organs, destroyed their chances of having children, and put their families through absolute hell.

So, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles, perhaps we need to relax a bit about the obesity epidemic. Relax about calories and fat and so on. Work on passing healthy eating and exercise habits on to your children and the children of those you love, and leave it at that. I keep hoping for some sanity to take over in this world of no carb/no fat/no sugar, and that people will just RELAX and enjoy their food. I'm thinking we would all be a lot healthier if we did. (By the way, today is National Hunger Awareness Day. Be aware of those who are TRULY hungry, and help them, if you can.)

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