Monday, July 22, 2013

I Don't Have the Willpower

There is a statement I've heard over and over from women:

"I could never be anorexic.  I don't have the willpower". 

Usually it comes with a tone of defeat or envy, even though it's a joke.  Sort of.

This is a reeeeeal bummer.

It shows that even though we smart, awesome women understand intellectually that anorexia is dumb (seriously, it's really dumb), there's still this part that's deeply embedded in us to believe that a woman's true value in her ability to restrict herself in order to be acceptable to the world.  Part of us is still saying that anorexia is true self-control.

The fact is that anorexia has very little to do with self-control.  Don't tell an anorexic that - they'll disagree.  Restriction makes them feel strong and superior.  I felt much prouder as an anorexic than I did when I was bulimic, because I felt that sense of superior 'willpower'.  But in reality, binge-eating and starving are virtually the same thing.  It is much more difficult to eat healthily every day than to eat nothing at all.  It is much easier to grasp control of your life through eating, or not, than to face the brutality of the world without a crutch.

The problem is that the world only sees the skinny.  And the world likes the skinny.  The world doesn't see the hours spent lying awake, counting the calories of the day over and over, panicking that you may have missed something.  Punishing yourself the next day, just in case.  The world didn't notice the (temporary) inability to have children, the shakes.  It only hears, "I just ate", "I'm not feeling well", "I'm going out to dinner later".  And it responds with, "You look great" and "I wish I had your willpower".

Anorexia is not willpower.

Here are honest words:

I could never be anorexic, I don't have the anger, sadness or shame.  I could never be anorexic, I don't have the self-loathing.  I could never be anorexic, I don't have a desperate need to control everything.  I could never be anorexic, I have respect for my body and I don't want to damage it.  I could never be anorexic, I am a valuable human being.  

Please, please let us stop validating each others' withholding and restrictive behaviours.  There are so many better things to admire in each other, like kindness, and patience, and perseverance.  And there are WAY better things to talk about, like literature, and politics, and So You Think You Can Dance.

And in my opinion...Jasmine is totally taking it home. (edit: she did not take it home.  blargh.)

1 comment:

  1. This is very thoughtful. The inner voice is vigilant in letting us know we are too much or not enough no matter what we do or how much we achieve.