Monday, April 24, 2006

Disease? That's not a disease...

I had the little goth kid from downstairs up here yesterday, farting about, listening to music, petting the cats and generally being a teenager, while I made chicken curry and polished off the remains of a bottle of white South African wine.
Anyhoo, the kid was hummmming and hawwwiinnng around the kitchen and I could sense a question coming my way. I raced through my list of things I am not prepared to talk about with a fourteen- almost fifteen- year old and came up with pretty much nothing except for anal sex.
Eventually she plonked herself on a work top near the bowl of chocolate icing I was about to pop into the fridge.
'Miss cat?'
'Uh huh.' I said.
'Do you think I'm fat?'
I find that, despite being delicate little things with feelings and mood swings and all sorts of hormonal shit going on, teenagers do not appreciate being lied to. On the other hand, read the middle of that sentence again.
I looked at her carefully. She is tall, has long hair-which she has sort of dyed a strange marmalade colour this week- fairly clear skin, and good teeth. Like a lot to younger teenagers she has a bit of puppy fat, she is probably about ten pounds over weight. But then she tends to sit about a lot, being too cool for walking and stuff. And she slouches, if she stood up straight she...oh Jesus, that was close, I almost channelled my mother there for a second.
So, did I think she was fat?
'No sweetie, I don't.'
She actually beamed at me. And for a single moment she was the most beautiful creature on the planet, bar none.
'Why do you ask?'
'Some girls in my class sorta said I was fat.'
'Bitches,' I said, 'ignore them.'
She shrugged. 'One of them was taken into hospital this week. They think she's got anorexia.'
'Yeah?'
'Yeah, her and this other girl, they were really thin, but then they found a pro-ana site-
'A what?'
She told me, a pro-ana site is a site where kids can log on and talk about how cool it is to be anorexic. There is also a pro-mia site for bulimics.
Jesus fucking wept.
I listend for a while, or at least until my patience ran out.
'Look honey.' I said, when I got a word in edge ways. 'I don't care, let the silly bitches stay in hospitel being force fed, let them waste away to nothing, I don't care.'
'Huuuuuhhhm... oh my God, you really don't care?' She said, surprised more that shocked.
'Nope' I said, adding coconut milk to the wok. 'There are plenty of kids dying the world over because they simply can't get access to food, these silly cows are killing themselves because they can but they don't want it.'
'But it's a... disease!' She said, pronouncing 'disease' with such hushed reverence I started to laugh.
'PC crap. Cancer is a disease,' I said savagely, pouring the basmati rice into the boiling salted water. 'As far as I am concerned anorexia is a life style choice, same as alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity and any other bullshit outcome from poor decision making. People don't want to hear that because people don't want to be responsible for anything, it's always someone else's fault or it's a disease or whatever, they want peple to think 'ohhhh poor thing, it's not their fault'. Well bollocks to that, I'm not buying what they're selling.'
Well naturally the kid flapped around a bit, offering me the soundbites she had heard while I snorted and raised the odd eyebrow.
'Everyone keeps saying how sorry they feel for them,' she said softly, 'so did I, but really... I don't get it, what's so great about vomiting?'
'Or shitting until your arse bleeds.' I said, adding three spoons of sugar to the cream I was about to whip.
'Bleaugh!' she said horrified. 'Is that true?'
'Or growing fur all over your body to keep warm.' I added. 'Or watching your hair fall out in clumps while your teeth rot from the bile in your stomach. Ohh yeah, sounds great, sounds totally cool.'
I passed her the wooden spoon.
She licked an inch of chocolate from it, her expression thoughtful.
'You really think it's stupid?'
'I sure do.'
'Me too.' she said and gave me that smile again.

26 Comments:

Blogger finn said...

i dunno, FMC; this is a tough one i think. there's a lot of middle ground between Disease and Lifestyle Choice, and while smoking, say, is way on the LC side, i wouldn't put eating disorders right next to it -- unless you're starving yourself to be cool, in which case you've got issues that go way beyond eating.

besos a tu for being such a good role model.

7:52 p.m.  
Blogger Boliath said...

Looks like you've caused some pondering with this one...have to say that I'm not in agreement with the eating disorders being a lifestyle choice. It sounds like you gave the goth kiddie some good advice but while something like anorexia might start off as a choice, it quickly sinks into big stormy seas and is no longer a choice. Same as smoking or drinking or addiction of any kind, you might start off doing it to be cool or to get fucked up, but when it reaches the dependancy level it's not a choice and you have very little control over it. It is scary to read how kids think the one on hospital is cool they do love drama, I remamber a girl pretending she had cancer once just for the attention. But a really serious problem like bulimia or anorexia isn't for the drama, it's a sickness and can sadly be fatal. Anyway well done on your chat with the goth kid, poor crathur, I don't envy her the next 10 years or so, I was madly relieved when I turned 30 and realised life is your own and fuck the begrudgers.

1:20 a.m.  
Blogger Binty McShae said...

I don't think cancer counts as a disease... diseases are usually catchable, aren't they? Cancer is a serious illness / condition. But it's one that can also be brought on by lifestyle choice...

Anorexia et al are illnesses too, albeit mental ones. It's akin (and often linked) to depression, which I wouldn't term as a LC.

5:57 a.m.  
Blogger Twenty Major said...

Fatness is a disease.

9:07 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Morning all, I see blogger is back working again, damn it to hell for yesterday's annoyance.
I know a lot of people don't agree with me and that's perfectly okay, I like reading differing opinions.And maybe I am a bit too gungho on the subject, but the truth is I don't want the little goth kid thinking it is even romotely cool to starve yourself, I want her to know that I think it is stupid, because for one reason or another my opinion matters to her. I will not show an ounce of sympathy for those two idiot girls because I don't want her to associate sympathy and attention with not eating.
Smoking, drinking, eating or not eating are all things we control and as far as I'm concerned if you control something then it is a choice and not a diease. You're right Boliath, it can change and develop rapidly, but the fact reamins you must start and keep at it for it to become a habit/condition/ uncontrollable necessity.

A medic told me something really interesting a few years ago. She works with the Red Cross and was home for two weeks on leave and she said, 'it's a funny thing, if anorexia is a disease how come I've never seen it pop up where where food is scarce?'

9:13 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Twenty Major! being a disagreeable old bollocks seems to be spreading too.

9:14 a.m.  
Blogger Face said...

I too, considered becoming anorexic as a teenager. Fortunately though, food is just too delicious...
Also the longer you go not eating the more likely you are to eat a shit-load once you finally start again.
I have since found the best way of staying slim-ish is just to keep eating and eating! eat eat eat!
Very nice! I made $500 last week just by eating! All I had to do was eat five sealions in butter sauce and a racoon...

10:09 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

$100 a buttered sealion? That's a bloody steal! Where can I sign up?

10:59 a.m.  
Blogger SheBah said...

FMC - at last, a bucketful of common sense. I agree with you, you have to persist before a choice becomes an addictive habit.
One of my closest friends works for the Red Cross, and she has never yet seen a case of anorexia or bulimia in Ethiopia; or indeed anyone obese claiming it's their glands or allergies. Over and undereating are choices made in countries where folk have the luxury of plenty of food.

11:33 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

oh SB, we must ahve been spererated at birth or something, and knowing my mother as I do that isn't too long a stretch.

12:24 p.m.  
Blogger finn said...

One of my closest friends works for the Red Cross, and she has never yet seen a case of anorexia or bulimia in Ethiopia

at the heart, eating disorders aren't about food; they're about self-image, eh? and fretting about self-image is less likely when you're scrabbling for your livelihood. ethiopians are damn fortunate, you see.

1:06 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Right, so can we say then that it is not a disease? And call it what it is, a condition.

1:22 p.m.  
Blogger finn said...

a condition. not a lifestyle choice.

3:23 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Condition it is then.

5:37 p.m.  
Blogger redhead83402 said...

FMC, I wholly agree with you on this, and bravisimo for sticking to your guns!! I have my own impressionable 14 yr old and 12 yr old, and let me tell you, I completely agree with the words ~LifeStyle Choice~ as opposed to ~condition~. It may be semantics here, but these kids are CHOOSING to not eat, and CHOOSING to begin puking. It does get out of hand, and those scrawny girls that somehow manage to have enough muscle left on their bones to walk down the hallways at school just LOVE to perpetuate the DRAMA of anorexia and bulimia. My daughters come home all the time with peer pressure on the subject. And if you saw my daughters, you would shake your head and be digusted with what society (media, mainly) has tried to con children into believing. My girls honestly question their bodies. They are healthy, well-toned, physically fit girls. ( We do a lot of hiking, cycling, hockey, snowboarding, etc). As such, All of my children are naturally slender, however, they all (except my son, lol, he DOES look like a 10 yr old boy ;-D) have my hourglass shape, that is to say, they have hips and chests, where-as these sick girls have the body of a 10 yr old boy. And sadly, society has told them that THAT is what is ~cool~, and what men *REALLY* want. I have taken a firm stance against it, however. I often poll men in passing about the body types they prefer, with my daughters there, just to let them see that the MAJORITY of men actually enjoy a WOMANLY body as opposed to a boy body. This alone has helped my daughters to understand that what the media exploits is not always so. And I full-heartedly agree with you on your stance with this goth-girl, they DO need to understand that you regard it as utterly INANE.

You know, lots of girls that age are fascinated with babies, as well, and I have no qualms whatever of letting my daughters know how these ana & mia girls are critically harming their bodies, they no longer have periods, they are unable to progress in their maturations, and they often ruin ther chances of ever being able to become pregnant or have healthy children. It is so important for kids to realize how their actions today will affect what choices they even have available to them tomorrow.
Much luck and goodwill in your endeavors, FMC, you ROCK!
:-D

6:11 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Ta Miss Red.

12:00 p.m.  
Blogger dogwoman said...

Anorexia is a mental disease linked to control issues and body image. It is not a condition. They don't choose to starve themseles, it is beyond their control. The more they attempt to take control the more they lose the ability to do so. It is most certainly not a lifestyle choice. No one with Anorexia wakes up one day and says "Hey, think I'll starve today and every day for the rest of my life." Eventually it becomes a situation in which the terror of gaining weight overtakes their abilty to reson correctly. A disease of the mind, which isn't nearly as visible or interesting to other people as a disease ofthe body.

9:19 p.m.  
Anonymous Fatty Arbuckle said...

Anorexia is a lifestyle change. You can choose to gorge yourself on food and become a big tubster or you can deny yourself food and become a sack of bones. Who are these idiots who can rack up sympathy for these bone whores but can't shell out a little mercy for my fat arse when I'm spilling over in to their airplane seat?

9:48 a.m.  
Blogger toomisty said...

I am bulimic.

It started out as a choice. A diet gone wrong if you will. But I no longer have the choice of how I eat or if my food stays down or not.

I don't do this for sympathy. Only my family and closest friend know about it. It is no longer all about weight.

Disease? Maybe not. But I know that most of the women (or men) with eating disorders do not do this to be "cool." The young people on these pro ana/mia sites have a different problem than just food, and I personally don't want to be associated with them.

Bulimia is not cool or trendy or any of that shit. It doesn't make you thin. Maybe at first, but then your metabolism slows down and anything you eat makes you bloat up like a balloon. You're teeth will rot out. You may develop ulcers in your stomach....

I guess my point is, the goth kid should fully understand anorexia and bulimia. Please to not lead her to believe that eveyone with these problems are "stupid" or "bitches."

8:52 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Bollocks. Like I said, I don't buy what you're selling.

9:05 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fat people are lazy! There sud b more thin people around!

6:47 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Stop that and keep a civil tongue in yer yap when you visit here.

11:07 a.m.  
Anonymous Make Me. said...

I agree that it's stupid to 'choose' to be anorexic, and pro ana sites are sick and just plain ridiculous. But sometimes, as I well know, anorexia is not a choice. It doesn't even start as a choice. It starts as a comment from some bitch at school who makes you feel guilty everytime you eat, who sends you hatemail and cuts everyone off from you. You wish you could eat something without the panic coming back. You don't even like skinny girls, but you're so terrified of being fat that you turn into one of them. You hate hurting your family but you can't stop exercising after lunch.

Just think about it, anorexia is a mental state of mind. So are Autism, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder not diseases? Just because some people think it's 'cool' to be anorexic, doesn't mean there aren't other people who do want help.

7:04 p.m.  
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