November 19, 2013
Anorexia Memoirs: Are we adding to the problem?
Kelesy Osgood is a 27 year-old graduate from Colombia University, is the author of How to Disappear Completely, her personal memoirs of her struggle with anorexia. She makes the rather hard hitting premise that other books on anorexia, rather than serving as a cautionary tale, inspired her to choose that lifestyle at the young age of 13. She was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying, "I wanted something to devote myself to, I wanted a religion." A religion that would lead her to be hospitalized three times over her ten year struggle. Her bible? Anorexia memoirs like Wasted by Marya Hornbacher and Appetites by Caroline Knapp. Miss Osgood claims that these books, which are often illustrated with cover photos of painfully thin girls and given 'zingy' one-word titles, draw the vulnerable reader in and inadvertently invite them to use them as advice manuals. In her book, she writes: 'I incorporated some of Hornbacher's tricks into my own weight-loss repertoire.' Indeed, while some may see anorexia as a psychological disorder, Miss Osgood believes it can affect any impressionable young person, especially when they are exposed to literature that seems to glorify it. The major issue that Kelsey points to in her book is the use of numbers and details that girls seem to want to latch on and emulate. In her book, Kelsey makes a point of never referring to what she weighed at a particular point or how little she would eat during the day or how much she exercised. She points out that her memoirs are the first to break free of that mould and to actually portray anorexia as the disease that it is instead of a bunch of numbers. Its horrible to think that books that are written with such good intentions can even lead to one impressionable young woman being drawn into that lifestyle. It begs the question...if this is what books on anorexia are achieving...what effects are movies, the fashion industry, and magazines having on our young women?