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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Would choosing to be anorexic be a tacit slap in the face to those who are really starving?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (22134 points ) May 10th, 2011

Is it a tacit slap in the face to desire to be anorexic in a nation that has plenty of food when there are nations where people are starving that want food badly but don’t have it available? For someone to have access to about any food desired and never have to go hungry to the point of starvation or wasting away, but starving by choice if they could swap places with one of those people in an impoverished nation that worries if they or a family member will live out the week with out dying from starvation would they? If they are that scared to eat anything if they don’t have the choice or the food was not available would they like that better?

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33 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Anorexia is a disease not a choice.

Response moderated (Spam)
lillycoyote's avatar

As @hawaii_jake points out, anorexia is a disorder, a disease, not a choice. Humans generally do not choose to starve themselves to death, hunger strikes excepted, and because of that, anorexia and the sequelae of anorexia can be fatal. It seems that if one eats and one’s weight and all that stuff is entirely a matter of choice then maybe it would be more a question about maybe being overweight in a world where people are starving is more of a slap in the face to starving people than anorexia, to me, at least. Anyway, if only things worked that way, if only things were just that simple: thin/fat, full/hungry, rich/poor, educated/ignorant. smart/stupid, East/West, Us/Not Us, With us/Against us….

FutureMemory's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction.

Within the context of their lopsided view of things, I bet some anorexics would prefer to live under circumstances where they did not have much food available to eat. It would make sense to them, no?

Vunessuh's avatar

I respect you and your discussions, but your details, while they may just be questions, are insensitive and I’m sure this is due to your rudimentary understanding of the disease itself.

Anorexia is not a choice. It is a disease. People don’t desire to be anorexic and the desire to be thin is hardly the sole reason behind their actions. One common misconception is that people make a selfish decision to become anorexic because they are self-absorbed, superficial and vain individuals who place too much importance on their image and ego. While the culture of thinness in which we live is certainly an influential factor for some, anorexia is a response to a complex mix of cultural, social, familial, psychological and biological influences unique to each person. Essentially, an eating disorder is the result of someone’s history. Period.

You obviously aren’t privy to their history. You don’t know why they are fighting the battle they’re fighting. There are so many depths to this disease. So many layers. So many reasons and possibilities. Pain. Torment. Depression. Fear. Insecurities. Environment. Relationships. Family dysfunction. Neglect. Physical, emotional, sexual abuse. Trauma. You don’t see any of this on the “outside”. In fact, a high percentage of individuals struggling with anorexia have a history of abuse, neglect and other traumatic experiences and develop anorexia as a coping mechanism, among other substantial reasons. Losing weight and being thin is almost never the sole purpose behind one’s actions even if it appears to be. For example, a friend of mine in high school was sexually abused and maintained her anorexia as a way to remain undesirable to men so they would leave her alone and she could feel safe. Losing weight for her was a way to protect herself so that she would be less vulnerable to assaults. She was obsessed with losing weight, yes. But a desire to be thin was not the motivator.

Anorexia is used to cope, to handle, to deal, to distract, to heal, if only temporarily. It’s often labeled as a form of self-harm, which I understand there is a mighty stigma behind. I wish that stigma would fucking go away. It’s the kind of shit that prevents people from seeking the help they so desperately need and encourages them to hide from the shame and embarrassment which only makes their condition worse. It has created a society that is inaccurately informed about people with the disease and other forms of self-harm, therefore promotes a mindset that it’s “OK” to deny, ignore and criticize these problems, because all self-harmers are just ungrateful attention whores, right?

People develop anorexia for different reasons, and what may be true for one person may not be for another. Whatever the reasons, they deserve to be heard, respected, explored and addressed. My heart hurts for those individuals who have been seriously and negatively affected by that stigma, especially on top of what they’re already dealing with.

And to answer your question: No. It is not a slap in the face.

knitfroggy's avatar

I find it hard to believe anyone would choose to be anorexic much like I find it hard to believe anyone would choose to be gay. People do amaze me every day though, so I could be wrong.

KatawaGrey's avatar

From what I understand and what @Vunessuh‘s answer illustrates quite well, anorexia is not about being thin at all. It is a way for someone to control their environment when all other things are out of their control. I do not think this makes it a choice, though.

Also, I don’t understand your logic. How is someone not eating a slap in the face to people who are starving? If that person isn’t eating, that means there is more food in the world for someone else.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central You don’t have a f***ing clue what this is about.
Sorry mods.

klutzaroo's avatar

I find this question disgusting. Utterly disgusting. “Insensitive” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Anorexia is a DISEASE. People don’t choose to have this disease, people don’t choose to be living in a place where no food is available. I could go on and on, like some we know, but I’m just going to stop with the fact that the question and the attitude behind it, not to mention the complete and total lack of sensitivity, are disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Jude's avatar

Many years ago, I was dealing with some pretty heavy life issues. I came out to my family about sexual abuse, also came out to them about me being gay and was rejected. I didn’t talk to them for two years. My partner at the time was going through family and work issues, as well, which was hurting her health-wise. I truly felt helpless. No control over some of the areas in my life. I looked at myself in the mirror, and didn’t like what I saw. I was maybe, 10lbs heavier than I wanted to be. I started to cut calories (1200/day) and exercised like crazy. I would run for 45 minutes/twice day. Losing weight and exercising made me feel that I was on top of things. I ended up going down to 95lbs. My hair was thinning and my nails were brittle. People would tell me that I was too thin, but, I didn’t see it.

For me, it was all about control. I needed to feel in control, and this was one way that I could do it. It lessened the anxiety at the time.

I was very sick (mentally), but, I got the help.

Jude's avatar

So, what do you think about all of that @Hypocrisy_Central?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Most anorexics aren’t much in control of the obsession to distort their bodies but I’m sure things like this have crossed their minds and adds to their disgust and guilt.

6rant6's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Like everyone said, you’re way off on this one. But that’s kind of where you live, right?

Yeah, I can’t imagine children in North Korea looking at copy of E! and saying, “Fucking Flockhart! She stole my look!”

Blueroses's avatar

The disease has been well addressed above and I can hardly believe I’m going to come to the defense of the OP but I’ll adjust my flame-retardant jumpsuit.
The way I read the question, it isn’t is anorexia a slap in the face to starving cultures but could it be perceived that way by people who have no food?
It’s a misuse of the word anorexia when I think @Hypocrisy_Central meant “a Western culture of dieting and deliberate starvation for aesthetic purposes .” I sincerely doubt he intended to belittle a severe mental illness.

To answer the question the way I read it, I would have to say yes, it’s a rather obscene message to send the world that we have so much food we are willing to pay entire industries to tell us to stop eating it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

desire to be aneroxic, starving by choice, etc. That better be a damn good flame retardant jumpsuit.

Blueroses's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe to clarify: I meant that he should have left the word “anorexia” out of the question entirely. I don’t believe he understood the difference between purposeful extreme dieting and a very serious disease.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Blueroses That I’ll buy into. Dieting and anorexia are very far apart.

Vunessuh's avatar

If the OP meant extreme dieting as opposed to anorexia, then he would have written it that way.

“I don’t believe he understood the difference between purposeful extreme dieting and a very serious disease.
Clearly. That’s why we have the responses we have.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

/facepalm I don’t even know where to begin with this. Ignorant. Rude. One of the dumbest questions I’ve ever seen here. Sorry, but it’s the truth.

woodcutter's avatar

While sitting in a doc’s waiting room I picked up a copy of “Elle” magazine. It’s filled with gaunt looking supermodels with toothpick legs and no tits whatsoever. (Men too). These snobs don’t have a disease. They are perpetrating a false image of what is supposed to be good looking. Well they are not and I’m sitting there thinking about starving people with no money or fancy clothes that nobody can really wear. The cover should really say “Skinny Rich Douche bags.” Can’t believe such bullshit would be in a doctors’ waiting room.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

To some the question might seem dumb, ignorant, mean-spirited and such but it is far from that. I may not wear my emotions on my sleeve on issues apart from faith but on issues of the World, I stick close to the logic.

@hawaii_jake Anorexia is a disease not a choice. First fact is even if it were in the context of the question it changes nothing. People choose to kill but because they chose to kill wasn’t because they were psychopaths. As @woodcutter pointed out _ While sitting in a doc’s waiting room I picked up a copy of “Elle” magazine. It’s filled with gaunt looking supermodels with toothpick legs and no tits whatsoever. (Men too). These snobs don’t have a disease. Some people inspire the _Thinspo life style because they want to be more like these magazine personalities, no abuse, trauma, drama, etc in the mix.

@lillycoyote It seems that if one eats and one’s weight and all that stuff is entirely a matter of choice then maybe it would be more a question about maybe being overweight in a world where people are starving is more of a slap in the face to starving people than anorexia, to me, at least. Yes, that is a different question but to me just as pertinent as this one.

@Vunessuh I respect you and your discussions, but your details, while they may just be questions, are insensitive and I’m sure this is due to your rudimentary understanding of the disease itself. I guess it is how one see the word ”choosing”, if you see it as those who have it as choosing it then you will have a different interpretation of the word, if you see it for what it is choosing to have or be something you were not then you have a more narrow definition of “choice”.
You obviously aren’t privy to their history. No, I would not have, and for the pure clinical observation of the disease I won’t need to know. Same as a person who has cancer has cancer and I don’t need to know how they came to have it unless I was treating them.

People develop anorexia for different reasons, and what may be true for one person may not be for another. Whatever the reasons, they deserve to be heard, respected, explored and addressed. I will not dispute that, no baby I know was ever born anorexic. But as certain diseases go the logic of them are truncated by the emotions; pedophilia, schizophrenic, psychopaths, sociopaths, etc became who they are by something but are often not seen as in need of help more than punishment because of the emotions of society. I truly feel for those suffering from anorexia because I think that is more insidious than being obese, and far ore dangerous.

I didn’t say all anorexics but all anorexics are not anorexics without the choice to be, hence the term tacit.

@knitfroggy I find it hard to believe anyone would choose to be anorexic much like I find it hard to believe anyone would choose to be gay. Those who are gay they are truly gay, they are not trying to like the same sex because they like K.D. Lang, Elton John, or Freddy Mercury music, or want to be like them. Those I have met that were gay pretty much knew they were gay or not like the other kids by the time they were 8yr. Can’t say I ever met an 8yr old anorexic. Some people play at being gay but cannot change their sexual desire and others find they are bisexual. Some people choose to play anorexic because they want to appear or be like celebrities or magazine people they believe are such or at least very thin.

@Adirondackwannabe More than you could guess I do know.

@klutzaroo I find this question disgusting. Utterly disgusting. “Insensitive” doesn’t even begin to describe it. From a logic standpoint it isn’t but then many want to tackle things like this with their emotions on their sleeve. @ WillWorkForChocolate Take note.

@6rant6 @Hypocrisy_Central Like everyone said, you’re way off on this one. But that’s kind of where you live, right? To those coming in through the side patio and not through the front door it would seem like that, but it is not.

Vunessuh's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central You think you’re the only logical person in this thread because the rest of us disagree with not only your mindset on this topic, but the insensitive way you worded your question? Therefore, we’re reacting emotionally rather than logically? You’re delusional.

“No baby I know was ever born anorexic”.
Actually, a great deal of research in recent years has indicated that there are genetic factors that contribute to the onset of an eating disorder in some individuals. This is not to say that emotional, behavioral and environmental reasons do not play significant roles, but that for some, there is a genetic predisposition to the development of an eating disorder.

Your main focus is that these individuals choose not to eat, as if that’s the only factor to what anorexia is. Of course, plenty of choices are made within the disease itself like whether or not to seek help and recovery or whether or not to eat a meal. I will not make excuses and disregard the responsibility they still owe to themselves like seeking help and support. But what you fail to understand, is that nobody chooses to be in a condition where their life is at risk. Nobody chooses to have a disease or a mental disorder. Even if the only motivation to lose weight was because of thin models in a magazine, the desire to be thin should never be confused with a desire to develop a life-threatening illness. That desire is nonexistent and if it does exist, that person already possesses mental illness that I can guarantee they did not choose to have.

“No, I would not have, and for the pure clinical observation of the disease I won’t need to know. Same as a person who has cancer and I don’t need to know how they came to have it unless I was treating them.”
You make sloppy comparisons. Developing and curing cancer and developing and curing an eating disorder are two different processes. You may not know or even give a shit how or why somebody has an eating disorder, but exploring, dissecting and working through their past which contains many causes of why they’re sick, plays a grandiose role in recovering. History always matters with a psychological disorder because it shines light on how everything came to be and that is extremely valuable information to use to save someone’s life. Your pure clinical observation of the disease without knowing their history is exactly why you have an ignorant understanding of it.

Now, I’m sure you are correct that not every individual with an eating disorder has experienced abuse, trauma or neglect, but chemical imbalances in the brain are usually already present for the onset of an eating disorder and only intensify as the illness intensifies. The chemical imbalance that causes mental illness which is also considered predisposing factors of anorexia include symptoms of perfectionism, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress and distorted body image, which are also related to disturbed interoceptive awareness. Nobody stops eating, begins vomiting after meals or possesses a skewed physical perception and is declared “normal”.

I’m sure facets of your life spiral out of control occasionally and I highly doubt you walk around telling people it was your sole choice for that to happen.

Anorexia has the highest death rate of any psychiatric disorder. It bothers me whenever somebody actually thinks that people choose to be on that waiting list.

Now, for the record when you say: “I truly feel for those suffering from anorexia”, I do wholeheartedly believe you.

klutzaroo's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central You’re so full of crap that you can’t even see anything clearly. There’s nothing “logical” about your standpoint, its just an asshole standpoint and point of view that allows you to say things like this and think that they’re OK and “logical.” They’re not. Its not about being emotional, its about understanding appropriateness and REAL TRUTH AND FACTS. Real truth and facts, not the bullcrap “fact from fiction, truth from diction” that you preface your lack of knowledge with. You have no understanding of this disease and a complete self-absorption that leaves you floundering when it comes to anything dealing with real people.

bobbinhood's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central “Can’t say I ever met an 8yr old anorexic.” Can you say you haven’t? Why are you so sure you would know if you had met one? I was at most ten when anorexia manifested in my life and I managed to hide it from even my parents. If I could hide it from a mother who watched for it, random people around me didn’t stand a chance of knowing.

As a camp counselor, I worked with at least one anorexic nine-year-old. Who am I to say that she didn’t develop it before she was nine? I also wouldn’t say that I recognized every anorexic camper I had because I know how well they can hide even when people are watching.

Besides, psychological disorders often manifest later in life. Just because someone first manifests anorexia as a teen or adult, the legitimacy of their condition is somehow negated? Following your logic, most people with bipolar are choosing to act and feel that way because they didn’t experience it as a child. Likewise with schizophrenia. Do you really want to go there?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@klutzaroo They’re not. Its not about being emotional, its about understanding appropriateness and REAL TRUTH AND FACTS. Real truth and facts, not the bullcrap “fact from fiction, truth from diction” that you preface your lack of knowledge with. The way in which anyone chooses to handle it is either from logic or emotion. Why would anyone with anorexia the real condition have need of a Web site to tell them how or teach them how to be anorexic? Some people aspire to be anorexic solely because celebrities or the media puts it to the front about how thin they are. Would these people starving themselves to look like what a magazine think they should look like have time to bother with that if they had to think of where their next meal would come from or if they can get enough food to keep their youngest child alive until sundown the next day? Those who have access to enough food or at least enough that they won’t starve to death even if they have to be hungry most of the time but choose not to makes about as much logic as being in a nation with unequaled liberty but wanting to live under some dictator because it keeps you from having to think too hard.

@bobbinhood Can you say you haven’t? Why are you so sure you would know if you had met one? Because most 8yr olds I ever came by wouldn’t turn down food or seem scared to eat it. Not having lived with them what they do at home I don’t know; likewais I can’t say many or any of them chowing down at the church pick nic, or other festive gathering are sneaking food to the dog. But I can bet my dollars to anyone’s donuts that finding an 8yr old anorexic would be harder than being struck by lightening.

The fact remains the same, if they live in a nation where food is plentiful but choose not to make use of it is an ironic dig to those who would kill you for a dinner roll but there is not even that to fight over.

Just because someone first manifests anorexia as a teen or adult, the legitimacy of their condition is somehow negated? Never said it did. Where did you get that from?

Following your logic, most people with bipolar are choosing to act and feel that way because they didn’t experience it as a child. Likewise with schizophrenia. You don’t follow my logic very well. Bipolar, from what I can gather, is a chemical imbalance, schizophrenia is a neurological condition, so they are there from birth more than anorexia. Is there an anorexic gene? I have not heard of one. There is no up side to being bipolar, and I have never seen a Web site that told anyone how to be bipolar. Magazine models do not act, give allusion to, or portray bipolarism

Vunessuh <strong><em>Anorexia has the highest death rate of any psychiatric disorder. It bothers me whenever somebody actually thinks that people choose to be on that waiting list.</em></strong> Yes, an obese person can lose 50–60lb and not be dead; an anorexic person can be dead if they lost 12 more pounds <small>or be seriously %^&#~ health wise. But there are wannabes and those lining up to be just about anything, high rolling ‘D’ boy selling dope, gangster, mobster, big shot investor, etc. Do some people line up? Yes, because they think the bad parts won’t catch them to they believe it is propaganda like don’t beat your meat or you will grow hair in your palms. They think they will be sexy the bonier they get. The waiting list might not be big, but there is a wating list.

Vunessuh's avatar

Those who have access to enough food or at least enough that they won’t starve to death even if they have to be hungry most of the time but choose not to makes about as much logic as being in a nation with unequaled liberty but wanting to live under some dictator because it keeps you from having to think too hard.

You clearly don’t understand the ‘disease’/‘mental illness’ part or how shitty your comparisons are.

You don’t follow my logic very well.

Because you don’t have any.
I won’t be following this thread any longer. Have a nice one.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

That was logical, try a less challenging question Late…...

klutzaroo's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Still, completely illogical bullshit. The more you type, the less truth and facts come out and more and more ridiculous crap. I won’t even bother to address you “point” by “point” because you have no valid, logical points.

gogoinggone's avatar

OK, I am new here, and this question is interesting, not just because everyone seems to be ganging up on the asker, but because I have flirted with anorexia/bulimia, and come out the other side.

I have an opinion, and flare and flame if you will, but I believe in this country, America, people are constantly babied and coddled like infants from the time they are born through adulthood. They are told that nothing is their fault, they were born “this way”, something happened to them which made them “this way”, it is someone else’s fault that they are “this way, that we are VICTIMS… I think it is malarkey. And it is damaging to us as a society.

We are trained to believe that our behaviors are not under our control, and if a behavior crops up, then there is a pill for it, or some $4,500-a-week treatment center that will cure us. Anorexia and bulimia start in the mind, it is true. We lose control of our lives, we are sexually abused, we see distorted images in the mirror. Once these things are made known to us, and we know why we behave the way we do, we now have the power to choose how we react and cope with with this. It takes months, years, decades perhaps, but eventually, your behavior becomes YOUR CHOICE. Cognitive therapy CAN work in this case, with help. I was in a treatment center with women who were in their mid-30s, and refused to take responsibility for themselves and their behaviors. It truly scared me into wanting to beat this thing so that I didn’t turn out like that…she would inevitably end up crying and whining on the public phone to mommy for hours every night, saying how bad everyone was treating her, and in the meantime she was influencing young girls badly and getting them in trouble, coaching them how to purge correctly…all I know was she was completely lucid and not in any sort of fugue state, and therefore, RESPONSIBLE for her behavior. As I realized I was responsible, got myself back together, and now eat normally (most of the time).

bkcunningham's avatar

Good for you @gogoinggone. Welcome to Fluther btw. Keep on keeping on.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@gogoinggone Welcome to Fluther, and thank you for at least being one voice of reason and not trying to side skirt or excuse the issue at all cost because the truth and logic is too strong. They are told that nothing is their fault, they were born “this way”, something happened to them which made them “this way”, it is someone else’s fault that they are “this way, that we are VICTIMS… You can say that again, and say it loudly. Someone said us Yankees are a nation of mamby pamby whiners and in many ways I think they were not far off.

bkcunningham's avatar

I just found out they don’t keep score in T-ball! What!?? Talk about mamby pamby.

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