6th May: Say no to diets, say no to anorexia nervosa!

Translated by Anastasia Tsitsani

Based on the original article in Greek by Ευστρατία Καμπούρη

The International No Diet Day was created in 1992, when writer and ex anorexic Mary Evans Young heard that a young teenage girl had committed suicide because she didn’t feel comfortable in her own skin due to her weight.

The words “woman” and “diet” are inextricably linked. But what happens when, instead of the woman following it, the diet ends up having the upper hand?

The answer to this dreadful question can be given by the ever-increasing percentages of women, and mostly young teenage girls, that suffer from anorexia nervosa. By “anorexia nervosa” we mean the eating disorder that is mainly characterized by the refusal of sustaining a healthy body weight, extreme fear of gaining weight and a distorted idea of one’s self-image.

 

According to Gerasimos Kolaitis, assistant professor of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 25% of people that suffer from anorexia nervosa are cured, while the 50% that shows partial improvement continues to have concerns regarding food. Anorexia nervosa is the mental disorder with the highest mortality rate. Moreover, 15% of women, aged between 14-25 years old, develop subclinical anorexia nervosa that does not always manifest completely. Another unnerving fact is that 10-20% of the patients usually die due to medical complications or suicide.

However, something that is worth-mentioning and raises interest on the topic is the fact that anorexia nervosa’s “gender” is female, since, even though its victims are not only women, the ratio between females and males who suffer from it is actually 90-10%.

After further research, psychologists came to the conclusion that even though anorexia nervosa is generally a fixed disorder of the brain, it is inflamed even more by the modern consumer society and takes the proportions of a women’s plague created by advertising and fashion. What triggers anorexia is the flawless “robot” model that society promotes to women, the model of a woman that has to combine beauty, intelligence and vigor with “appealing” girly hypersensitivity as well as professional and personal success.

But what happens when the victim of these societal imperatives is a girl of tender age? An age when her character and personality have to be formed one step at a time in order for the girl to be able, thanks to the high standards and ideals with which it has been raised, to feel safe and ready to walk on the road called “life”? What if we still live in a deeply racist society that, due to its pretentiously groundbreaking ideas and its sparkly fireworks of modernization, becomes even more obsolete with each day? A society that, even though celebrates the day against dieting, will never celebrate the day of true equality?