‘My Secret Life: A Memoir of Bulimia’: A face behind the statistics

6 Jan
Body image 1

Waters writes that she was deeply affected by the bombardment of images of skinny women in magazines. [Photo credit: jamielondonboy on Flickr.com

Waters’ account of how she grappled with the disorder mentally is fascinating and, indeed, chilling at times. While her criticism of her physical appearance in the beginning of the book is something that perhaps many people, young and old, can attest to, it is her swift downward spiral into the pursuit of a distorted image of ‘perfection’ that is most shocking.

Again, I couldn’t help but call to mind Harriet Parsons’ words on the role of the media in this love/hate relationship with body image, as I read of how Waters often “traipsed for hours through pictures of bone-riddled women for motivation”. In Parsons’ own opinion, it is this brashness of the media in relation to the subject of body image and its supposed ‘ideals’ which has perpetuated the concerns and issues of hundreds who are prone to being affected by eating disorders.

It is difficult to ignore this connection as I read Waters’ account of how the disorder slowly but surely began to take over her life, and how her fascination with her “bulimic self’s” perception of beauty took on a decidedly wistful quality:

The women portrayed on television and in advertisements represented everything I wanted to be; determined, disciplined and utterly perfect… They were jagged creatures and were composed of sharp edges and spindly bends…Tummies were always flat but evolved very abruptly into hips.

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