Today in the Guardian, writer Laura Barton explores the English lexicon's obsession with the "rexic." Barton notes that there used to be one kind of rexic: Anorexic. A serious condition, to be sure. But something changed. A familiarity with the term bred new monikers: Manorexics, pregorexics, brideorexics, drunkorexics, wannarexics. "This week," Barton writes, "Grazia kindly added 'nearlyrexics' to the pile — a term to describe all the women it deems to be nearly anorexic, but not quite." It's reminiscent of the episode of The Simpsons, in which Homer cries, "I'm a rageoholic! I'm addicted to rageohol." Except: It's not funny. Because eating disorders are not funny. And even if you survive one, you might (as Anthea Rowan writes for the Times of London) worry about passing it on to your kids.Rowan became fixated on food in her teens: Counting calories, weighing herself. She seems to have snapped out of it at age 17, but now she has daughters, 14 and 11. The 11 year old thinks that she is fat. Ms. Rowan writes:
"Oh Mummy, look at my fat tummy," she has wailed, tugging at a T-shirt in an effort to pull it over her waistband. Shopping for a swimming costume is angst-ridden. "Not a bikini," she stresses, "one that covers this up," pointing to her stomach. Her sensitivity is born of comments from her peers. "A friend told me," she confides, "to stop pushing my tummy out. I wasn't." … I ask our doctor if she is too heavy. And I feel ghastly, disloyal, like a vain, competitive designer mummy who wants her daughter to appear as perfect maternal accessory. He regards me as if that's precisely what I am. No, he says sharply, calculating her body mass index; she's fine. I cannot explain that I am asking so that I can reassure my little girl the next time she worries about the way she looks.
What happens when something goes mainstream is that people feel comfortable talking about it. It's a good thing that eating disordered people not feel shame or misunderstanding; but how come 11-year-olds feel it's okay to make comments about each others' bodies? And what message is sent when you take your (normal, healthy) daughter to the doctor to have her weight checked? And should we even be using words like "wannarexic" and "nearlyrexic"? The Rise Of The 'Rexics': Another Illness We Made Up Earlier [Guardian] Mummy, Do I Look Fat? [Times of London]