In The Independent today, a woman named Naomi Hooke writes about her battle with anorexia. "As London Fashion Week continues," she writes, "the controversy surrounding 'size zero' models is once again up for discussion." But Hooke wants you to know: "to believe that the fashion industry causes eating disorders is to completely misunderstand this most complex of illnesses."
Hooke claims she has suffered from anorexia since she was 11 years old. "The prospect of an adult life ahead terrified me. I was afraid of responsibility, of a time when I would have to face the world without my parents' hands to hold. But most of all I was scared of men and sex." Models and the fashion industry had nothing to do with her problems, she argues.
Anorexia has often been perceived as a quest for model-like beauty, as a teenage fad or as a diet gone wrong. It has even been described as a lifestyle choice. Seldom is anorexia acknowledged as the life-threatening medical condition that it is... I, like many of the eating disorder patients I have met, never sought beauty; instead, I spent years trying to make myself look as ill as possible in order to avoid male attention.
Hooke spent seven months in the hospital for her disorder, but says her condition was never influenced by fashion or waif-like celebrities. Still, she thinks that the approach that officials in Madrid, Spain are taking — banning models with a BMI under 18.5 — is problematic. "There have been times in my life in which my BMI has been in the healthy range and yet my eating behaviors and mental state were far from healthy," she writes.
Surely you can respect that this is one girl's story. But while she may not feel pressure to be thin from the fashion industry, what about the rest of us? What about the models, the celebrities? Doesn't the desirable air of "glamour" held up by magazines, runway shows and red carpets seem reserved for the thin?
Understanding Anorexia: A Thin Excuse [The Independent]