Of All The "Rexics" You Can Be, Anorexic Is Still The Worst

Illustration for article titled Of All The "Rexics" You Can Be, Anorexic Is Still The Worst

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.

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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]

DISCUSSION

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Ugh. When I was nannying one of the mothers of a girl who was friends with the children I was looking after confided in me that she worried about her 9 year old daughter because she worried about her weight. She said "she's like me, she has that bit of baby fat"...and I just looked at her, hoping that she'd think about what she said. Of COURSE her 9 year old had baby fat...she's a child! Then she told me that she'd tell her not to eat cookies because they would "make her hair less shiny" but really it was so she'd learn not to eat things like that now. And I thought...your daughter is intelligent, kind, lovely, and small...and if you think she doesn't know why you're telling her not to eat cookies and not her older brother then you're an idiot. And if you keep it up, you're going to do more damage than you can possible imagine because if she's already exhibiting body anxiety at 9 then she's vulnerable to this kind of thing.

What was sad was that, in all other ways, she was a very loving and sane parent...and I understand where her concern was coming from because kids are mean and she didn't want her daughter subjected to that. But if you treat your healthy, active, completely average weighted daughter like there's something wrong...adolescence is going to be worse.