Sunday, October 4, 2009



"It is crucial to notice the language we use when we talk about bodies. We speak as if there was one collective perfect body, a singular entity that we're all after. The trouble is, I think we are after that one body. We grew up with the impression that underneath all this normal flesh, buried deep in the excessive recesses of our healthy bodies, there was a Perfect Body just waiting to break out. It would look like everyone else's perfect body. A clone of all the shapeless, androgynous models, the hairless, silicone-implanted porn stars. Somehow we, in defiance of nature, would have toothpick thighs and burgeoning bosoms, buns of steel and dainty firm delts. As Andy Warhol wrote, 'The more you look at the exact same thing... the better and emptier you feel.'" (47)

"I ignored my parents, full of delusional certainty that one day soon I would walk back into the house, tall as a magazine model, cool and collected, a new woman, you've come a long way, baby, and then they would see. Then they'd know they'd had me all wrong, I would sweep into their perfect white living room and sit down on the couch, crossing my (magically long) legs and give them a bored stare. Then they'd be impressed.
Fat chance.
"I fell for the great American dream, female version, hook, line, and sinker. I, as many young women do, honest-to-god believed that once I Just Lost A Few Pounds, somehow I would suddenly be a New You, I would have Ken-doll men chasing my thin legs down with bouquets of flowers on the street, I would become rich and famous and glamorous and lose my freckles and become blond and five foot ten. I would wear cool quasi-intellectual glasses and a man's oxford shirt in a sunny New flat... As soon as I left my hometown and lost a few pounds." (91-92)

"You begin to rely on the feeling of hunger, your body's raucous rebellion at the small tortures of your own hands. When you eventually begin to get well, health will feel wrong, it will make you dizzy, it will confuse you, you will get sick again because sick is what you know." (111)

"You become fearless in a very twisted way. Reckless, careless, a cartoon character spinning its legs in glee as it falls from a cliff, splats flat, bounces back up. You sneeze, and your nose, cocaine torn, spatters blood. This pleases you, just as the small knives of pain please you when you run, the stabbing pain of each step, just as the worried, muted words of friends please you, just as your own voice pleases you when you say to them, I just can't stop. You've made a decision: You will not stop. The pain is necessary, especially the pain of hunger. It reassures you that you are strong, can withstand anything, that you are not a slave to your body, you don't have to give in to its whining.
"In truth, you like the pain. You like it because you deserve it, and the fact that you're putting yourself through pain means you are doing what you, by all rights, ought to do. You're doing something right. It's hard to describe how these two things can take place in the same mind: the arrogant, self-absorbed pride in yourself for your incredible feat, and the belief that you are so evil as to deserve starvation and any other form of self-mutilation. They coexist because you've split yourself in two. One part is the part you're trying to kill--the weak self, the body. One part is the part you're trying to become--the powerful self, the mind. This is not psychosis, this splitting. It is the history of Western culture made manifest. Your ability to withstand pain is your claim to fame. It is ascetic, holy. It is self-control. It is masochism, and masochism is pleasurable to many, but we don't like to think about that. We don't like to think that a person could have a twisted autoerotic life going on, be both a top and a bottom, and experience both at once: the pleasure of beating the hell out of a body shackled at the wrists, and the pleasure of being the body and knowing we deserve each blow." (123-124).

"My life revolved around meals. Never believe an eating-disordered person who says she hates food. It's a lie. Denied food, your body and brain will begin to obsess about it. It's the survival instinct, a constant reminder to eat, one that you try harder and harder to ignore, although you never can. Instead of eating, you simply think about food all the time. You dream about it, you stare at it, but you do not eat it... Food is the sun and the moon and the stars, the center of gravity, the love of your life." (151)

"I have a remarkable ability to delete all better judgment from my brain when I get my head set on something. Everything is done at all costs. I have no sense of moderation, no sense of caution. I have no sense, pretty much. People with eating disorders tend to be very diametrical thinkers--everything is the end of the world, everything rides on this one thing, and everyone tells you you're very dramatic, very intense, and they see it as an affectation, but it's actually just how you think. It really seems to you that the sky will fall if you are not personally holding it up. On the one hand, this is sheer arrogance; on the other hand, this is a very real fear. And it isn't that you ignore the potential repercussions of your actions. You don't think there are any.
Because you are not even there." (237)

"I am alive for very menial reasons:
1. Being sick gets singularly boring after a while.
2. I was really annoyed when told I was going to die and rather petulantly went, Well fuck you then I won't.
3. In a rare appearance by my rational self, I realized it was completely stupid and chicken-shittish of me to just check of life because it ruffled my feathers.
4. It struck me that it was entirely unoriginal to be starving to death. Everyone was doing it. It was, as a friend would later put it, totally passe. Totally 1980s. I decided to do something slightly less Vogue.
5. I got curious: If I could get that sick, then (I figured) I could bloody well get unsick." (277)

"Eating disorders, on any level, are a crutch. They are also an addiction and an illness, but there is no question at all that they are quite simply a way of avoiding the banal, daily, itchy pain of life. Eating disorders provide a little private drama, they feed into the desire for constant excitement, everything becomes life-or-death, everything is terribly grand and crashing, very Sturm and Drang. And they are distracting. You don't have to think about any of the nasty minutiae of the real world, you don't get caught up in that awful boring thing called regular life, with its bills and its breakups and its dishes and laundry and groceries and arguments over whose turn it is to change the litter box and bedtimes and bad sex and all that, because you are having a real drama, not a sitcom but a GRAND EPIC, all by yourself, and why would you bother with those foolish mortals when you could spend hours and hours with a mirror, when you are having the most interesting sado-masochistic affair with your own image?" (280-281)


Anise said...

yes yes yes. i love this book. she is so spot on about everything. i also found a PERFECT quote by her in Madness, which is at the bottom of my latest post...go read it, i think you'll like it.


what if summer... said...

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for so long... I really should read it.

Anonymous said...

ha i did the exact same thing when i read it the first time, but then i dogeared so many of the pages that it was no feasible to look back through them all...

Wow. said...

Must get this book!!

Hey Savory, I'm a new blogger. Read mine if you like but its pretty boring a the mo!!

Ana's Girl said...

I really love this book. I've read it like 3 times, planning on a fourth where i go through and highlight my favorite parts :)

belle svelte said...


it's been awhile. i'm back...and really really really fucking out of my mind with work. oh boo hoo. how are you? i haven't properly spoken to you in ages and that's bad.

hope you are well.

design by