January 5th, 2006

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08:43 pm - on bulimia and anorexia...
Lindsay Lohan, Before and After
Lindsay Lohan
before and after her excessive weight loss.
Editor's Note: Due to the serious subject matter presented here and the knowledge that some of the readers from which I seek information have suffered from this disease, I am going to attempt to be a little less venomous than usual. That said, I'm still me. So reader beware.

So apparently Lindsay Lohan has admitted in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair that she has been suffering from bulimia for the last year or so. This is news that should surprise exactly no one who has an IQ over 12 and is blessed with even partially functional eyesight.

She says she didn't really realize how bad things had gotten until Saturday Night Live producer, Lorne Michaels staged an intervention for her following her hosting of the show last May. She then says that when she watched the show later she was appalled at how disgusting she looked.

Ok, so that brings me to my point. How does that happen? To be completely frank and un-PC (and maybe incorrect, as I'm just spitballing here), I have to believe that at its essence eating disorders are about vanity. How do you not notice that you are skin and bones until someone says "hey, you look like shit!" and then all of a sudden you say, "oh wow, you're right! I do!"

I don't mean to be as rude as that probably sounds. I don't even mean to say that vanity is a bad thing. I have no problem with a person caring how they look. I have no problem with wanting to lose weight. I have no problem with a person wanting to be hot. I want to be hot. And, its totally ok to not give a shit about what you weigh too. But if you're so obsessed with what you weigh and how you look that you develop an eating disorder, wouldn't you be looking in the mirror a lot? My understanding is that anorexics and bulimics are constantly checking out their bodies. So doesn't there have to be a point where you stop hating yourself for being too fat and start hating yourself for being too skinny? Wouldn't someone that obsessed either realize it without being told so by a TV sketch comedy producer? And if not, wouldn't they still believe its not a problem even after said producer pointed it out?

Ok, so I'm a guy. I may be a guy who is charming, loves fashion, shopping and John Cusack movies, but I'm still a boy. I have a penis. So that pretty much makes me a pig (proof by lack of counterexample, QED). As a piggish boy, I like to see hot girls. Boys tastes do run the gambit a bit, but I'll admit I actually kinda have a thing for petite girls. Not quite as skinny as some guys like their girls, but I do like skinny. But you know what guys also like. Almost unilaterally, guys (at least hetero ones) like a nice pair of boobies. Something that Lindsay was blessed with about a million times over (she even made fun of them quite a bit on her first SNL appearance). She totally lost those in her illness. Secondly, boys like fucking hot girls. A requirement for hot being that when doing said fucking, they prefer for the girl not to be so fragile that she breaks in half during the act. Something I would have been terrified of happening to Lindsay in her rail thin days (you know, cuz I'm just that much of a stud in the sack, and stuff). Am I right guys?

But I've also read a lot of LJs and blogs in the pro-ana camp, and they seem to really like that look. So maybe girls have a different idea of hotness than boys. Maybe that explains why Mick Jagger, in all his emaciated glory, is a sex symbol.

But even still, I guess I sort of get anorexia. I get being so obsessed with having the perfect body that you starve yourself. I get that maybe eventually you lose sight of your goal, and continue to starve yourself past the point where you still think you're fat even though there are crack whores on the corner saying "damn girl, you need to eat something!" I don't see how someone gets there, but I get that they could.

What I don't get is bulimia. What happens to a person that makes them think its a good idea to eat something and then intentionally throw it up. Why bother eating in the first place. If you're that obsessed I can see starving yourself. But at what point do you say, I'm going to eat and then get rid of it? Why? Is it just lack of willpower to starve? Is there some logic behind it?

You see, there's another thing about guys. For the most part we don't like girls who puke. Not even just girls who puke intentionally. We don't like girls who puke at all. In fact, when we see a girl that we think is hot, we prefer to think that she has no actual messy biological functions at all. She doesn't have a period. She doesn't go to the bathroom. Hell, we like to believe she doesn't even sweat (outside of the aforementioned drill press like banging that I might be giving her). So vomiting is pretty much right out the fucking door. Again guys, am I right? So again, what makes a girl think that its sexy?

Maybe its not guys. Is that the thing? Like I was saying earlier, is this beyond "looking sexy for the boys?" Does the bulimic really think that no one would ever find out? Or does she just not think the boys would care? How does she make that jump in the first place? If anyone has any insight, I'd love to hear it. Oh, and anonymous comments are allowed on this post if you want to hide. But if you do, please check back, because I'm sure that I'm going to want to ask followup questions to anyone who has comments here at all.

(23 comments | Leave a comment)

on bulimia and anorexia... - graffiti.maverick — LiveJournal

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From: henrysbag Date: January 6th, 2006 - 03:03 am (Link)
What happened to Lindsay Lohan ? Good Lord she is MUCH hotter with boobs than a rack of bones. It's got to be beyond "looking sexy for the boys" I have not yet met a male who likes the look of skin and bones. Most of them do not like heavy women either, but it has been my experience that they prefer some meat on their women.
I took a vocational cosmetology class back in High School and my male teacher (who was not gay) said that women try to look good for other women. It's not a sexual thing. It's more of a healthy competition. I believe this too be true. By the time we (boys AND girls) get to a certain age or maturity, the chicks know that they can be sweaty and imperfect and your guy will still want to hump you. It's just a natural primative force that can not be tamed. So this obsession with the skin and bones look has got to be a form of "control" Maybe some of these women feel like it is the ONE thing that they can control. What do I know? Just a hunch.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:07 pm (Link)
Control... that seems to be a bit of a going theme here, from all the comments. So i guess there may be something to it.

But I have to believe that there is some vanity involved in it. Otherwise all bulimics would be cutters or something. Ok, that's a simplification I don't really mean, but you get the idea.

And I'm glad you agree on the skin and bones not being the ideal and the fact that the boys will want you no matter what.
[User Picture]From: marsinthestars Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:00 am (Link)
Eating disorders are rarely about vanity. Some begin as vanity, but mere vanity drives people to liposuction, plastic surgery, and tons of makeup or obsessive looking in the mirror, not starving themselves or vomiting their food.

Eating disorders are about control. Controling what enters the body. Anorexia controls what goes in altogether, but in a way I guess bulimia is "easier" because it's easier to hide- you eat like a normal person, or even more than a normal person, but you're not keeping any of the calories.

And yes, I think many people with bulimia (or anorexia) successfully hide it for quite awhile. They know that what they're doing isn't "ok".
[User Picture]From: blk Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:17 am (Link)
Ditto this. It's NOT about looks or weight. That may be the side effect, and one of the things you can measure to see what's going on, but the main idea is about having obsessive control over your own body, even to the point of starving it.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:15 pm (Link)
Obviously I don't really know much about it. Otherwise I wouldn't have needed to ask "what's up with dat?" But I just have to believe that some obsession over looks is in it. Especially given the skinnyness competition that was going on with her and her clique (also including Nicole Ritchie and Mary-Kate Olsen). I'm sure its a control freak problem, but she definitely seemed to have a physical goal in mind. And other girls that I've talked to in real life who have defended their eating habits seem to very much be of the "I'm just trying to look good" mindset. Maybe that's an excuse, but its at least something they've said.

But yeah, I totally get that its complex.

Oh, I love the userpic there.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:11 pm (Link)
oh, its certainly hidable for a while. But I get the impression from many stories I've heard (and Lindsay's in particular) that she "didn't realize it was a problem." And that's hard to believe. I mean she was aware that everyon thought she had breast implants from the billion or so tabloid articles about it, so she had to be aware that everyone thought she had an eating disorder. And having listened to her talk on previous occasions, I also think its pretty clear that there is a good deal of vanity in there. She wants to look good. I can believe that she deluded herself into thinking she was ugly/fat and needed to do something about it. But I don't get how she "suddenly realized she'd gone too far" from Lorne Michaels telling her. sundaygray gets into that a bit in her comment below.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:28 am (Link)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:22 pm (Link)
yeah, I think the whole "the media makes us want to look like this" thing is bull. Or at least a highly gross oversimplification. I will grant that hollywood blondes have a look that many girls might want to emulate, but the anorexic look doesn't even approach that. People often point to playboy as making girls strive for "unrealistic bodies" but most playmates are a lot more... well... "womanly" than what became of Lohan and Ritchie and their friends. So the OCD/Control issue has to come into it.
[User Picture]From: sexcow Date: January 6th, 2006 - 07:31 am (Link)
Lindsay Lohan needs to go back to the beautiful red headed version... ahhhh red heads... ahhhh Lindsay...
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:23 pm (Link)
there you go... getting right into the crux of the issue! :-)
[User Picture]From: inmostlight Date: January 6th, 2006 - 12:36 pm (Link)
You know what upsets me the most?
Lorne Michaels just stands aside and lets John Belushi and even Chris Farley self destruct, but feels compelled to step in and perform an intervention on LINDSAY LOHAN?!?! As if we didn't already have enough proof that Lorne was the devil...
[User Picture]From: shirleydoe Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:11 pm (Link)
Actually, he paid for several rehabs for Farley and wouldn't even let him on the show some weeks. In one of the SNL books, he laments that Belushi got as far as he did and hoped he coudl atone with Farley.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:26 pm (Link)
yeah, that's basically what I heard too
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:26 pm (Link)
well to be fair, Belushi was a different time. And from what I hear, he did try to help Farley. I've seen him state on several occasions that he always had a fear that Farley would become "another Belushi" and then being saddened when he did.

But also, coke problems are a little easier to hide than eating disorders. I'm betting that if either of them had come back from the off-season suddenly weighing 127 lbs, he'd probably have figured something was amiss.
[User Picture]From: sundaygray Date: January 6th, 2006 - 02:08 pm (Link)
So, I do have some experience with this. I have OCD, mostly controlled by medication, and my stepsister has an eating disorder that she still struggles with. The two are definitely related according to psychologists. Both are about exerting control in a way that you *can* do so, to cope with a situation (or situations) in which you can't. To choose a particularly dramatic scenario for purposes of illustration: you're a female only child in a two-parent family. Dad's an alcoholic. Dad beats up Mom. You can't stand watching it and he says he'll beat you up too if you say anything. You can't sleep at night because of it. You're doing poorly in school because of it. You feel things slipping away from you but you don't know what to do about it. Maybe you start with some unusual food behaviors, like only eating exactly half of your meal or only eating things in a certain order or extremely meticulous calorie counting (that piece of gum has 10 cals but the sugar free kind has 1, etc). All of this happens with little to no conscious choice in the matter. It just suddenly seems like a good idea. The control on some level is comforting, but on another level it is wounding you.

I don't think it's about vanity although some people with eating disorders start off by being (maybe overly??) concerned about how they look.... but the looks-part of it is just a thing to hang your obsessiveness on. When I read your post I was actually surprised that Ms. Lohan was able to take a step back and say she was "appalled at how disgusting she looks." Since we only know about her story through sound bites, it's hard to fill in the rest. One can be appalled at themselves, but not able to stop. What are you supposed to say to the camera, "No, I still think I look too heavy." "I know I'm hurting myself but I can't refrain from it."

It makes me a little uncomfortable that some people assume that one can just "go back" to being a certain way or "how did they let themselves go" etc. One might compare an eating disorder to alcoholism, or to OCD. You can't just tell an alcoholic to just stop drinking or someone with OCD to just stop doing ritual behaviors. There's underlying psychological causes which need to be dealt with before the disorder can be managed and the person can return to being healthy.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:42 pm (Link)
so taking your issues in order:

1) Yeah, I get the control thing. That's what I said, its got to be more than just "being sexy," but the thing is, I get how that turns into anorexia. Maybe its just that I don't have the disease, but somehow the jump to bulimia just doesn't seem obvious to me. I thought I was making that clear but it doesn't look like I was. That's the big mystery to me. I get how someone might say "No one can make me eat. I can be as skinny as I want." I even get cutting. Or doing drugs or what not. I don't get "I'm going to eat, and then throw up." It just doesn't seem like control to me. I was hoping someone could explain that. I mean, obviously I'm never going to totally understand, but I was hoping someone could at least put me on the right track.

2) That's my other big issue. If I accept what Lindsay said about "not being able to see herself for what she had become." Then I have a hard time believing she just overnight got it just from Lorne saying something. I mean, I guess that's what interventions are for, but I don't see how it works. But to be fair, I wasn't there. I'm reading a Vanity Fair article. So maybe it took weeks and not just a paragraph, you know what I mean? Also, I don't really know how long it was before she saw the episode. Maybe it was weeks into her recovery and that's why she was appalled.

3) I don't think she did just "go back" to being normal. Looking at the bikini cover she did for the new issue of Vanity Fair, she's certainly not back to where she was weight-wise, but she's definitely looking better than she does in that red dress. And that's just physical. Personality-wise she reads differently in this interview than she has before. So I'm sure there has been a lot of change for her.
[User Picture]From: sundaygray Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:58 pm (Link)
So, I don't know as much about bulimia as I do about anorexia.... but I'm actually surprised that she lost all that weight from being just bulimic. What little I experience I have with bulimics is that the weight loss is slower, less drastic.... but I can't generalize that to a whole population really. Sometimes anorexia and bulimia work together. They are still both about an attempt to regain control. Binge-purge just works it differently. Think of it as peak and trough. The desire for food is overwhelming, but then there's guilt for having consumed so much. I don't know. These are just my ideas based on the people I've talked to (spend enough time in the hospital and you get to talk to everyone).

I'm sure there's actual first person accounts out there of what it is like to have this disease. If you are genuinely mystified/curious as to how it works, maybe you should research it further. One interview with a prominent media personality isn't going to yield very much actual information. Firstly, she's going to edit herself, because she knows what she's saying will be read by zillions of people. Secondly, the interviewer/writer is going to edit her to spin the piece a certain way or to get so many column-inches from it.

I'm sorry if this reply is hurried. My cab is coming any minute now. If you reply to this message and I don't respond, it is because I'll be out of town until late Sunday night and my internet access is questionable.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 06:15 pm (Link)
point well taken on the editting of the celebrity. And I was specifically trying to take that into account. But the only information I can go on is the information I have. So that's what I was addressing. I also have to believe that any real person who was suffering from the problem (or any problem really) would probably do similar editting. That's fair. But still, I like hearing what people have to say.

I am curious, definitely. But I don't know that I am research curious. As with everything else I talk about here, I'm actually a lot more interested in what "my readers" think than specific real data. I can't really explain why that is. I'm certainly not trying to publish a factual paper or anything. Its more like connecting with the audience or something. I dunno. Over the past several years of blogging, I've become quite fond of the process of ranting on my thoughts and hearing the feedback. Someong get me a HOVA-damn newspaper column. *sigh*
[User Picture]From: mizmoose Date: January 7th, 2006 - 01:37 am (Link)
bulemia isn't about losing weight.

bulemia is "oh my god, i have no will power, I'm so depressed/worthless/stupid/etc.etc.etc. and i'm going to eat and eat and eat.

oh my god, I have no will power, i can't believe i ate that. i shouldn't have eaten that. what's wrong with me?? I'm going to force it out of me before something bad happens. I can't believe I did that. I gotta get rid of this NOW!"

You totally mess up your body's ability to know when it's getting food, when it's keeping food, when it's going to get food.

That's why a lot of ex-bulemics [if there really are ex-s] are so fat.

[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 7th, 2006 - 01:58 am (Link)
now see, that makes sense. I mean, yeah, it still sucks. But its logic I can follow. Its just not the logic that I hear from crack-whore chic celebrities. I mean, I totally understand that there may be multiple causes of the problem, like any problem. And I get the one you gave, but not the other one.
From: wooble Date: January 7th, 2006 - 04:31 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 7th, 2006 - 05:15 pm (Link)

but you get my point...
[User Picture]From: sabranee Date: January 11th, 2006 - 12:11 am (Link)
There seem to be two kinds of disorders - ones chiefly stemming from societal pressures and the other from a variant of body dysmorphic disorder.
Most anorexics actually fall into the latter category - these are the people (men and women) who suffer and die from the disease. Their predisposition to hating their bodies (and indeed inability to even view themselves realistically) is intensified by societal pressure, not caused by it.
People like Lohan, however, are the former - her unrealistic view of her own body comes not from an internal disorder, but one imposed on her, so that she has, in effect, caught Body Dismorphic Disorder from popular culture. She was probably predisposed to it, being an attention whore (and yes, having had three eating disorders, getting attention is a factor), and had that predisposition amped up to a, um, disposition once inside holywood's pressure cooker.
I just hope she goes back to being normal and fucked up and hot.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 11th, 2006 - 05:47 pm (Link)
I think the Lohan type is what I was getting at. I'm not even saying there's anything wrong with wanting attention. I'm not judging anorexia or bulimia even. I'm just saying that there has to be a factor in there. Its sort of like how people say rape isn't about sex... but obviously, there is a sexual component and I think that needs to be addressed. I just don't believe that Lohan's problems are completely internalized to control issues and have nothing to do with a desire for attention from others.

And yeah, normal, fucked up and hot would be a good mark for her to reach for.

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