Thursday, 11 May 2017


There are various theories as to the cause of anorexia the victims of which are largely adolescent girls. Here are a few:

1) A suicidal desire to self-harm stemming from low self-esteem.
2) A desire to control and manipulate members of their family and, by extension, members of the medical profession.
3) The pressure of the patriarchy to conform to unrealistic standards of female beauty.

My view is that, thought all of these may play a part the real reason is different. Adolescence for girls means inexorable progress towards full womanhood. This is to state the obvious and the things by which a woman is practically defined in contrast to a man. One of the many things womanhood is is the assumption of the pleasure, power, burden or responsibility (depending on how you look at it) of being the creature who attracts the attention that leads to courtship and procreation in the human species. Procreation means, again, the pleasures, burdens, responsibilities and dangers attendant on pregnancy and childbirth.

As young girls become aware of their progress towards this end some can react in extreme ways. Some will react with terror and I’d guess that this terror can be expressed in an attempt to arrest their own development through becoming anorexic. They simply don’t wish to grow up as a result of a frightened Wendy and Peter Pan syndrome. Perhaps such unfortunate creatures simply need reassurance.

I think there is a second reaction to the advance towards womanhood, though. Some young women will feel a kind of rage at not having been consulted by Nature, God or Evolution (depending on your viewpoint) regarding their fate as gendered creatures. As a result their opting to take the anorexic route is a kind of rebellious protest against that fate. This may be more true in a cultural climate which can regard being endowed with womanhood as coming off second best. Instead of accepting and rejoicing in what they are, they declare war on it and punish it in their own bodies. In doing so, they also exercise a kind of power in destroying the work of nature in themselves. They want to be the ones who choose what they will be. What they really want is the small matter of power over creation.

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