The Truth About Eating Disorders: Hungry For Control

Society has created a monster, a monster that is the need to both lose and gain weight. Nearly, 20 million women in the United States alone will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Every 62 minutes at least one person dies due to an eating disorder. Throughout history there’s been the belief that women are merely an object of men’s sexual desires. A woman is suppose to be perfectly beautiful and intelligent, while being not too loud or opinionated; essentially she is supposed to be perfect in all aspects of life. The demands of womanhood have taken its toll on millions of women throughout the world. The toll of having to be perfect. The simple truth is the best way to be perfect is to not exist. A woman starves herself in hopes of fulfilling one of the seeming qualifications of being a women, to be skinny. The hope is if she’s skinny, the world will ignore the rest of her flaws, since we as a society deem being skinny as being beautiful. So when a woman or young girl feels incomplete, they could turn to a wide range of eating disorders in search of love, control and ultimately self acceptance. However, the regulation of food isn’t the only way to disappear; sometimes a woman might feel most invisible when she doesn’t fit society’s thin mold. A woman may gain weight in hope that the world will ignore her and allow her to feel safe for the first time in her life. When you think about an eating disorder, you think about a young girl obsessed with looking like a beautiful model, not an obese middle age black women or a biracial teen who is apart of the upper middle class. Eating disorders are more about being in control than they are about being skinny. In world filled with chaos sometimes the only control someone has is what they do with their bodies. In the memoir, Hunger., and the film, Feed, we are shown a different side of eating disorders. A side that isn’t filled with rich white girls obsessed with becoming beautiful. We are introduced to the stories about the true trauma and the heights one goes in order to gain control of life.
In the 2017 film, Feed, high school senior, Olivia Grey deals with the loss of her twin brother in a car accident. Matt , Olivia’s twin, is the student body president and future frat boy, while Olivia is destined be valedictorian and attending Yale in the fall. After Matt dies, it becomes clear the amount of pressure Olivia is under and how close she was with her twin. The moment Matt dies, Olivia starts to destroy her relationship with food. At Matt’s wake, Olivia stricken with grief refuses to eat. Weeks after her twin’s death it comes to Olivia’s attention that she might not have the highest GPA, she then proceeds to throw herself into her schoolwork. Olivia is so focused on school and obtaining the highest GPA that she forgets to eat. As time progresses, Olivia deliberately stops eating dinner and lunch, only eating an apple or banana in the morning. During one of her late night study sessions, Matt appears in her bedroom ready to ease his twins pain. He offers to help her study and promises after they finish, they’ll pig out of ice cream like old times. Olivia is overjoyed at seeing her deceased brother. The appearance of her brother, drives Olivia over the edge by leaving everything to her brother, even eating. She brings bags of food for her brother by their old treehouse. Olivia believes if she feeds her brother, he won’t leave her.
It becomes clear to the audience that Matt is not having a positive impact on Olivia’s life when after a long night of studying Olivia becomes frustrated and distracted. Matt becomes aggressive and demands Olivia to get up and go for a run. A couple of days later, Olivia goes to Julian’s house. When she and Julian are about to kiss, Matt decides to interrupt and starts to speak to Olivia. “ Do you want me to go Liv, so you can be alone. Don’t let him distract you Liv.” Olivia stops and Julian becomes concerned. Matt then proceeds to say “ His gonna go to college, going to meet other girls, smarter, prettier girls who aren’t messed up in the head like you. He’s gonna leave you Liv. He’s gonna hurt you Liv, he’s gonna hurt you I know it. I’ll never leave you because I love you.” During Matt’s speech Julian is talking to Olivia , asking her what’s wrong and trying to make sure she’s alright. Julian then tells Olivia he loves her. After hearing Julian’s confession Olivia ignores her brother and proceeds to try hook up with Julian. Julian leaves to grab what the audience can infer is a condom. Olivia asks Matt to leave and Matt responds by saying “Let’s see how long you last without me this time.” Olivia and Julian proceed to hook up, in this moment when Olivia is only in her underwear the audience can vividly see how sick she has actually become. While they are hooking up, Olivia starts to panic after she begins to replay the car accident in her head. She accidently screams her brothers name, scaring Julian causing him to ask her to leave and tells her she needs help. The scene shows how much control her trauma and her brother have over her. The new Matt is not like the brother she used to know. It is her disorder using her grief as weapon forcing her to stop eating. The audience can clearly see that Matt is not really her brother but a physical manifestation of her eating disorder. The Eating disorder forces Olivia out of situations where she lacks control. Olivia’s eating disorder is a way for her to deal with the death of her brother and the stress she faces due to school.
During her parents Christmas party, it becomes even more apparent that Olivia is mental ill and needs help, when her mother finds bags of rotten food hidden behind the twins old treehouse and Matt (her ED) tries to convince Olivia to jump from the roof , so they can die together. Olivia asks Matt to not make her do this; Matt in response says “ This isn’t going away Liv, it’s not going to end after graduation. You think dads gonna let you do whatever you want? He’s not. You’re going to his school; you’re taking over his firm just like he wanted me to do. They’ll never gonna love you, not like I do.” He then proceeds to comfort Olivia, telling her he loves her. She asks if it’s gonna hurt and he says “nothing will ever hurt again” and she has to do this because she promised they would die together. Matt’s conversions with Olivia is merely an inner monologue between her and her ED.
Luckily, her parents stop her before she jumps. However, even after Olivia’s parents check her into rehab, Matt follows and continues to emotionally abuse her and convince Olivia he needs to the food more than she does. This film is an accurate depiction of what it’s like to live with a mental illness and the extreme difficulties someone faces on the road to recovery. The producer and actress, Troian Bellisario dealt with an eating disorder, anorexia, in her late teens just like Olivia giving a realistic insight to eating disorders. Troian originally wrote the screenplay for Feed fours years after she went to rehab herself. Troian explained in interviews that her own story with anorexia inspired Feed. Mass media for years has portrayed eating disorders as simple and an easy fix. In Feed, that is not the case even after rehab Olivia still at times of stress around food sees her ED, manifested as her dead brother. In the case of any mental illness, the battle does not end in rehab or after, with the use expensive medication nor therapy. Not only does the media portray eating disorders as an easy fix but as a one dimension disorder that is ruled and controlled by the need to be skinny to meet society ideals. Based on Roxane Gay’s memoir, Hunger., that’s not in any form the truth.
In the memoir, Gay talks about her own struggles with her weight, not losing weight, but gaining it. In the beginning of her memoir she writes “This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not, stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not (Gay.5).” People passing Roxana Gay on street do not see her disorder or trauma, only her weight. When Gay was twelve years old, she was gang raped in the woods near her family home. For nearly 30 years she kept it a secret from her family. That’s where Gay lost control of her body and realized she needed to take control back, so she started to indulge in food in hope that she could hide. “…I ate because I thought that if my body became repulsive, I could keep men away. Even at a young age, I understood that to be fat was to be undesirable to men. This is what most girls are taught- that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society(Gay.13).” Gay, like a number of women, are forced to believe that being skinny is the synonym for being beautiful. Due to society’s expectations, Gay began to eat more and more creating a body she could feel safe in. The sexual assault Gay went through took a toll and created a life trauma and a void that she felt needed to be filled. She states “ I was determined to fill the void, and food was what I used to build a shield around what was left of me.” Gay’s story captures a different side of eating disorders, the other side of the spectrum. Eating disorders do not revolve around just losing weight, but are defined as a wide range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. Every eating disorder is different and has different triggers, causes and treatments needed. Gay’s story provides a new perspective on trauma and the eating disorders that can follow. Gay talks about eating disorders in a way most have been afraid to do. People are afraid to consider that one is capable of defying society’s expectations and battle trauma by gaining weight instead of losing it. The thing about trauma is there is no wrong or right way to battle it.
Both Feed and Hunger. capture eating disorders in a different light that is often not talked about in the mass media. Each person has a distinct way they deal with trauma and the need for control, whether it’s anorexia, bulimia or purging. The discussion between the media and the public needs to be inclusive toward everyone. Everyone can be affected by an eating disorder no matter their weight, race, or gender. The reason I hold Hunger. And Feed at a high regard is they open up the conversion to be inclusive of everyone not just the stereotypes people have when they know someone has an eating disorder. Eating disorders are an epidemic and the best way to fight it, is to open up the conversion. We are capable of taking control of the situation and ultimately creating a positive narrative that help those who are affected by not only eating disorders, but mental illness in general.

Progession and Lack of

Throughout the centuries there have been vastly different methods used to treat mental illnesses. In the Middle Ages, they believed the mental ill to be possessed and tried to bleed the demon out. During the 1800s and up until the mid 1900s, they used fever therapy, sent people to asylums, did procedures like Insulin Coma Therapy and lobotomies to treat mental disorders. By the 1960s, there were laws in pass that protected the mental ill from harmful treatments. Currently, people with mental illness go either to therapy, are on medication if not both. Treatments for mental illness have constantly changed and revolved around the popular ideas of the current century. However, one thing hasn’t changed there still remains to be stigma around the mental ill. In modern day literature, there is still the discussion on treatment and misconceptions about the mental ill that occurred in prior decades.
In the poem, “Order Your Disorder” poets Zariya Allen, Kyland Turner, and Belissa Escobedo discuss mental illness and the common use of prescription pills. In the beginning of the poem, they ask “are you feeling mentally ill?” and response with “then we’ve got the pill for you!” They then proceed to tell parents not to worry if their child is easily distracted because they can get a whole month supply of Adderall for $69.95. A common issue in the current mental health care system is the amount of prescription that are handed out. In some cases, the prescriptions pills are not the right answer to treat the disorder. Sometimes, its the easy answer to a complex problem.
In the novel, Wide Sargasso Sea the reader is introduced to Antoinette Cosway a young women from the Caribbean who is married off to Mr. Rochester. Wide Sargasso Sea is a prologue to the novel Jane Eyre, that explains how Mr. Rochester first wife Antoinette is driven into insanity. Antoinette’s family has a history of both mental illness and disabilities; her mother was driven insane and her younger brother had a developmental disability. When Antoinette becomes ill, her husband takes her from her home and locks her up in a attic. Antoinette by the end of both novels, burns down the home she is staying in and commits suicide. In most cases, the lack of action and proper treatments drove those mental ill further into insanity and cements an almost permanent stigma around those who are ill. In Antoinette’s case, due to the stigma around mental illness and Rochester’s embarrassment he locks her up and does not try to get her proper treatment.
In poem, “Order Your Disorder”, the poets discusses the stigma around mental illness as well. They state “but don’t tell your family– they’ll tell you to hide it. But don’t tell your teachers–they’ll send you to a separate room to take your tests; but don’t tell your friends– because they’ll never understand.” Even in modern society, the stigma still lives; those who are not ill have difficulties truly understanding what it’s like and what it means to be mentally ill. Even though, we are vastly more educated on mental illness, what causes it and what treatments actually work in aiding those who have a mental illness, the stigma remains.
The progression in treatment for those who are ill is wonderful; yet we have a long ways to go in how we treat those who are ill in society. The stigma remains and as long as it does progression is still needed.

Order Your Disorder: The poem

Wide Sargasso Sea By: Jean Rhys

The Beasts of Nightwood

The novel Nightwood, a contemporary novel based in the roaring 20’s, expresses the new movement of sexual and self discovery. The novel revolves the mysterious Robin, her many lovers and one peculiar doctor. The novel is set in Paris, Austria, and somewhere in the Midwest of America. The change of setting orbits around Robin’s constant migration from one house to the next. Throughout the novel, Robin, a boyish woman drifts from one person to the next, never settling down in one place, a true nomad. Throughout, the novel the same metaphor is used to describe humans as well as the subjects of the novel. The metaphor being about the connection between being a beast and being self aware. Author Djuna Barnes all throughout the work hints at the idea that humans are or can be simply disguised beasts.

In the beginning of the novel, when the Baron first meets Robin he states after she closed her eyes he “ found himself seeing them still faintly clear and timeless behind the lids-the long unqualified range in the iris of wild beasts who have not tame the focus to meet the human eye (pg. 41). The Baron’s comparison between Robin and a beast translates throughout the novel. The other characters can be classified as beasts as well. Robin, Jenny, and Nora’s beasts are their sexuality. Robin and Jenny in modern society can be defined as bisexual and Nora can be defined as an lesbian. In the 1920’s, homosexuality and bisexuality were deemed inappropriate as well as illegal in most countries. When Nora first sees the Doctor in drag she states “ God, children know something they can’t tell; they like Red Riding Hood and the wolf in the bed (pg.85).” The audience then realizes that the Doctor is a beast; he hides beyond his given gender, avoiding showing the everyday people his true form as a beast or an unnatural woman. Further into the novel the Doctor states “ I began to mourn for my spirit, and the spirits of all people who cast a shadow a long way beyond what they are, and for the beasts that walk out of the darkness alone… (pg. 112)” Those who hide in the dark and avoid showing their true selves live lonely lives, since no one really knows them. You can’t really know someone, if they never show their true self, their beast. Humans generally try to deceive others into thinking that they are normal and are not in any way different; their long shadows hide their true selves. Society typically has strict rules on what is appropriate, especially in the past. Characters like the Doctor and Robin notably hide what they really are in the dark. They use the night as an escape to express themselves in the purest form; they get to be beasts. Those who are deemed not normal by society are not beasts because they are different or regarded as outcasts, but because they are purely themselves. People instinctually try to fit in, however animals and beasts just are. The doctor raises a rather profound point stating “ To be utterly innocent, would be to be utterly unknown, particularly to oneself (pg.147).” Those who hide in self-made shadows may seem like they are hiding their true selves from others, but in reality are just trying to avoid looking in the mirror. The idea that humans are meant to be polished and refine is false; humans are just as much of beasts as lions, bears, and dogs are. We simply are what we are and pretending otherwise, one only hurts themselves and no one else. The Doctor reinforces this idea with the statement “-the more you go against your nature, the more you will know of it…(pg. 172).”

In the conclusion of the novel, the ex-lovers Nora and Robin are reunited. Robin roams near Nora’s home and Nora ends up being led to Robin by a dog. Shortly after seeing Robin, Nora faints. The dog becomes aggressive and then Robin becomes aggressive, sinking down to all fours and growling back at the dog. Robin accepts her true form as a beast, finally welcoming what we all ignore. T.S. Eliot profoundly stated “ To regard this group of people as a horrid sideshow of freaks is not only to miss the point , but to conform our wills and harden our hearts in a inveterate sin of proud (pg.xxii).” The truth of the novel is we are all purely beasts and that is what is what gives us our humanity.

Barnes, Dijuna. Nightwood. New York: New Directions Books, 1937. Print

Reflection on Running A Thousand Miles For Freedom

Reflection on Running A Thousand Miles For Freedom

The slave narrative Running a Thousand Miles For Freedom; Or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery tells the story of William Craft and his wife escaping the clutches of slavery to earn their freedom. The Crafts, both enslaved in the South, fled to the North in hopes of escaping slavery and earning their liberty. However, after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the Crafts left the United States, seeking refuge in England. Throughout, the narrative William Craft discussed the relation between religion and slavery. Ultimately, highlighting the shortcomings of the argument for slavery.

In the narrative, Craft analyzes the link between American slavery and Christianity. He states that he and his wife did not experience the cruel and evil side of slavery, but they were deprived of all legal rights and could not call the bones that God gave them their own. Christian slaveholders claimed that “…God made the black man to be slave for the white (37).” Craft explains that they, the slaveholders, believe that every free colored persons was in open rebellion of heaven and that they, the slave owners, are the agents of God and may pour upon sinners unrestrained vengeance. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 highlights this type of thinking, since all free slaves living in the North could now be sold or taken back into slavery. William states that “this shameful conduct [slavery] gave me a thorough hatred, not for true Christianity, but for slave-holding piety (10).”; whereas piety is defined as devout fulfillment of religious obligations. One of the Bishops of Vermont stated, in a lecture, that “every Christian is authorised by the Divine Law to own slaves, provided they were not treated with unnecessary cruelty (97).” William argues that slavery was not approved by God. He clarifies that God was against slavery that in the Bible in the 23rd chapter of Deuteronomy, it is stated that “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.” Craft lists another example from the Bible stating “ hide the outcast. Bewray not him that wandereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee. Be thou a convert to them from the face of the spoiler.” Craft further supports his argument with the allusion of the south as Egypt and slaves as the Israelites. The Israelites enslaved in Egypt guided by God escaped slavery and headed to the promised land, Israel. The connection between the slaves and the Israelites is that they are both children of God, forced to submit to mankind and escape to a promise land of freedom.The argument is since God wanted the Israelites freed from chains, why would he want the American slaves in chains? Crafts argues that God is completely for the freedom of all. In addition, Craft attacks the integrity of Christian slave owners by stating that they are so eager “…to prostrate themselves before the great idol of slavery (98)” The slave owners were going against God’s word by worshipping a false and evil idol, slavery. Ultimately, Craft’s narrative forces the audience to question the true state of what makes one a true follower of the Almighty God.

In Craft’s slave narrative, he clarifies the clear distinction between blasphemy and the gospel. The actions of slaveholders were not only sins against fellow men and women, but disrespect toward God and the divine gospel. Slaveholders used the Bible as a way to suppress slaves, due to their inability to read and interpret the text. The usage of the Bible as a way to suppress others is not only used in the past but in the present. Currently in America and most of the world, Christians use the gospel as a way to suppress those who are homosexuals or anyone who disagrees with the Christian text. There are few passages that clearly define homosexuals as unnaturally and ungodly.Such as in Leviticus 18:22, it’s written that “you shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”. I do not know the true will of the Lord, but what I do know is that man does not decide what is right and holy. The true master of mankind and all it’s beings is God, creator of heaven and earth, a fact known by William Craft then and the mass majority of people today.