This harrowing post about a nine-year-old girl with anorexia and how her family fought (and still fights) to keep her healthy has been on my mind all day.
The mother starts off by saying "My nine-year-old daughter was starving herself to death. And somehow, God forgive me, I didn’t notice until it was almost too late."
I don't think that there is a mother of a girl who doesn't worry about their child having an eating disorder. How can we not worry when girls are absolutely squeezed between the 'can't be too skinny' and 'can't be too fat' rules of our modern culture?
I know that anorexia doesn't only have to do with the pressure to look a certain way. I have read that there is much more at play when it comes to severe eating disorders. But the famous Kate Moss quote: "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels," plays on endless subconscious loop. And so many women starve or exercise themselves, not the point of a full-blown eating disorder, but close enough to the precipice that is a preoccupation.
And so, we mothers of girls, we watch what are girls eat, we monitor their language about themselves, we try and laugh off things that frighten us. I honestly had a conversation today about my daughter's toes, which she said looked weird. I, of course, want her to love every part of her body just in case one negative thought can bring the whole house of cards of body image crashing down.
But just like this mother said, it never occured to her to worry about anorexia in a nine-year-old. I do worry about my daughter being like so many of the women I know whose enjoyment of food, and of themselves, is always tempered by thinking about their body. I worry that my beautiful, exuberant daughter is at risk of:
- Never enjoying a delicious, fattening meal just because.
- Avoiding carbs for her whole life, or fried food, or whatever the trendy food is to avoid, in the name of diets.
- Of never feeling truly comfortable in her own body.
- Of looking in the mirror and instead of seeing beauty, seeing flaws.
The young girl in the article has a lifetime of issues in front of her and I can see why her mother wrote the post. I will just add early-onset eating disorders to my file of things to worry about as the mother of a girl.
What is your experience with eating disorders? Do you worry about your girls (or boys?)
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about searching for new female role models and why the Spice Girls wrecked feminism.