How to Cure an Eating Disorder According to Movies
A Creative Personal Narrative
Step 1: Have an Eating Disorder
This is the most essential step, and the simplest one to accomplish. If I am to cure my eating disorder, I must have an eating disorder.
According to movies, eating disorders are as easy to get as the common cold. I can have a friend show me a thinspiration website, or I can stumble upon such a website completely on my own during a transitional period in my life like going away to college, or joining a competitive dance or gymnastics group. Or, I can simply be a white teenaged girl. This is the basis for an eating disorder.
According to movies, my eating disorder is not of my own doing and not my fault in the slightest, even if I’m encouraging myself. Bad thoughts develop because of others. My mother is overbearing, or my parents are divorced, or my sibling is the center of attention, or I am a Triple Threat with all three.
I must forget that anorexia and bulimia are now considered diseases like alcoholism, where a genetic factor comes into play. I must forget that anyone, regardless of gender, race, or age, can develop an unhealthy relationship with food, and that 13% of women over the age of 50 have disordered behavior. I must forget that I have been struggling with body image since I was eight years old.
This is just one part of the equation, though. The perfect recipe for disaster has:
1 cup of Insecurity
4 tablespoons of Stress
2 ½ cups of Tense Familial Relationships
1 teaspoon of No Control
And a pinch of salt for taste.
With this quick and easy recipe, I now have a dish that I can never eat, because not eating is the point.
Step Two: Pray to the Goddess Ana
According to movies, in order to be cured, I must first give myself completely to my eating disorder. I will stop eating and still somehow be able to exercise excessively. If I want to, I can personify anorexia to keep myself motivated. She will become my best friend, Ana. No one will understand me like Ana does. I am wrapped in her cocoon, waiting for her to transform me into the perfect butterfly.
No one will not notice at first, not in the way that they need to notice. My parents will even encourage it because isn’t it so wonderful that I want to eat healthy now? According to movies, they will not notice the food I hide in my napkin, or that I chug water during a meal and immediately lock myself in the bathroom afterwards. They will not notice that I am exercising late in the night and suddenly spending an alarming amount of time online staring at photo shopped pictures and diets that wouldn’t sustain a five-year-old.
I will be praised for my commitment to health and my ability to say no. This is not a diet, this is a lifestyle. My secret sisters (no boys allowed) will praise me, and I will relish in Ana’s glory.
According to movies, the adults in my life will become my worst enemies because I am a teenage girl (because, remember, only teenage white girls can have eating disorders) and they don’t understand the pressures of being a teenager. Only Ana understands what I’m going through; only she can help me. She teaches me the verses of her bible.
Skip dinner, wake up thinner
Feet together, thighs apart
Hunger hurts, but starving works
Emptiness is pure, starvation is the cure.
These are the psalms that keep me going.
Step Three: Get Caught, Get Smarter
This step is trickier, but paramount to successfully curing an eating disorder. If I am to be cured, my parents must catch on that something isn’t right. They will either find me drooling over skeletons barely wrapped in skin, or notice that my clothes don’t fit as well, or that I’ve taken dinner up to my room every day that week.
According to movies, I will get caught once, not get sent to treatment for it, and be able to keep indulging in disordered behavior. There will be a lecture, but really, it isn’t that serious. All girls go through this phase.
My parents will temporarily be suspicious of me. This just means I need to get better at hiding my habits. I will make dinner so I know every calorie in every bite. I will stay up late exercising while the rest of the world is in bed. I will learn to shove my fingers down my throat when it becomes necessary.
Someone will help me. It may be a friend who encourages my weight loss. It may be Ana who whispers to me in the dead of night, telling me I will now start a zero calorie diet. I will find the strength to push myself harder than I’ve ever pushed myself before.
There will be times when I falter. My weight will go up by one pound and it will be the end of the world. But this just means I will have to work more.
I will make myself throw up sometimes, but starving is the only true eating disorder. Throwing up is for when I make mistakes, like binging (which means only eating 100 calories more than my 500 calorie limit).
According to movies, friends and family may eventually notice this, but they won’t do anything about it that will actually help me.
Step Four: Hit Rock Bottom
According to movies, I can only go up once I hit rock bottom. But in order to go up, I must hit rock bottom.
This can mean a number of things. Rock bottom can mean:
a. My parents catch me again, and I’m forced into treatment
b. Almost die
c. Someone else dies, reminding me how precious life is
Something traumatizing will happen to me, to show that I am at my lowest point. And for a brief period of time, my eating disorder may even get worse. I will pass out during school, I will outright refuse food 24/7 despite my parents’ desperate pleas to just take a bite, or I will become a monster with hollow eyes and knives for collarbones.
But according to movies, my eating disorder cannot kill me. It can come very close to killing me, but it will not kill me because that just doesn’t happen to main characters. Nice girls don’t die from eating disorders. I can be as emaciated as a concentration camp survivor, but I will not die. A person dies from an eating disorder every 62 minutes, but I cannot be one of those people. The main character in a movie never dies from the eating disorder.
I will not go quietly into that good night. I will be petulant; I will be vicious. I will spit ugly words at the doctors because Ana owns my soul.
Emptiness is pure….
Food is not nutrition. The only number with any worth is zero. Size 0, zero calories, zero control.
I will come close to death, close enough to learn my lesson. Or perhaps someone I know will actually die from the same disorder. It may be a family member, or a friend, or someone I had heard of in passing. My rock bottom is seeing someone else suffer.
There will come a point in which I cannot fight any longer. The zero-calorie diet will have let a demon inside me and I will be exhausted from the possession. It will be time to accept help because all girls go through this phase.
Step Five: The Cure
At this point, I reach the final step.
According to movies, my eyes will be opened from trauma and I will accept treatment because life is for the alive and I am not dead.
According to movies, this step is as easy as the first one. Suddenly, I will be able to put food in my mouth and realize that it is nourishing. I will delete my thinspo blog without a second thought and without any temptation to look up pictures of girls wrapping one hand around their thighs. I will start a wellness blog, and post pictures and quotes about loving life and how I am worth being nourished, because I deserve to live.
I will be well.
This will be seen as nothing more than a small hiccup in my life, and won’t affect me in the long run. My future will remain bright and I will be a symbol of hope for girls like myself who are struggling. I will start a blog about self-love, and preach about how all of my imperfections are perfect.
Every body is beautiful, even mine…
According to movies, I am no longer ill. My brain has been cleansed, my weight has been restored, food is no longer the enemy, my parents trust me fully again, and I have defeated the demon Ana
According to movies, I will not relapse. An eating disorder takes an average of seven years to truly recover from, but this does not matter. I will not adopt other unhealthy behaviors. I will not rub my collarbones out of habit. I will not develop binge eating disorder because of refeeding syndrome. I will not develop bulimia because I can eat now, but I can’t keep it down because I’ve grown to hate the feeling of food inside of me.
I will recover with no trouble because I am cured. This is not cancer; it cannot come back. This is the common cold. This is a virus that only teenage white girls can get, and once infected, they will build an immunity to it.
I will not worry about continuing therapy, or going on medication, or reevaluating triggers in my life. I will not panic over gaining weight, or realize that this will be something that I will battle my entire life because no matter what, the numbers will always be in the back of my head and a scale will always be waiting for me to step on it.
According to movies, I am cured.