Anorexia: Not like being Angelina Jolie

Seventeen years ago I knew a woman who was dying of anorexia. I didn’t know she was dying; I don’t think she did, either. Even so, she died. She was 35. At the time I was 19 and I thought 35 was old. I’m now 36. It’s not old. It’s just that this woman looked older than anyone I’ve ever seen before or since.

She had huge yellow eyes, massive teeth on account of her receding gums, and a head that wobbled with nothing to support it. I don’t remember anything else. Just clothes, lots of lots of clothes to cover her nothingness body.

If I’m being honest, this woman really pissed me off. She was childish and stupid, I thought. I had anorexia, yes, but she had stupid, childish anorexia. She ate next to nothing, spent lunchtimes rolling the middles of bread rolls into tiny crumbs which she’d flick on the floor, as though none of us noticed. Then in occupational therapy she drew stupid, childish pictures. A five-year-old could have done better. I hated her pictures and I hated her stupid, whiny voice. And I look back and right now I hate myself.

We were in occupational therapy the last time I saw her. She was copying  Christmas cards even though it was the middle of summer. There was a massive bay window behind her head. The sun was streaming in, burning into her head, and she tried to rest her wobbly head on a wobbly hand as she told us she felt sick. The therapist called an ambulance. I resented all the fuss. The next day the woman had a seizure. Three days later she was gone.

I’m crying as I write this, which is pretty self-indulgent, given what a useless, unsupportive bitch I was at the time. I don’t even know what it is I’m trying to say. Certainly nothing funny or original or different. I’ve just seen the cover of this week’s Heat – “The scary rise of the anorexia poster girls” – and it just makes me despair. Another shitty article full of fake concern for women who are too thin, and for the women who look at pictures of them, albeit an article which shows the same pictures once more, just in case you’ve missed them. And it makes me so tired and so sad. I’ve posted about pro-ana and hypocrisy before, albeit when I was in a better mood. But right now I can’t be arsed. This whole thing is just so fucking miserable.

I don’t know what the last days, or years, of this woman’s life were like. She’d been ill since the age of 15. 20 years of misery, for no reason at all. And she didn’t even have pictures in Heat to help her on her way, not like girls today who have even more options as to how to waste their bodies and lives.

Well. That’s all I have to say. Just what a total fucking waste.


2 thoughts on “Anorexia: Not like being Angelina Jolie

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