Saturday, 9 July 2011


An article was published this week by the online mag Mamamia; a good fun site with lots of great parenting articles that I love to read. So why am I so ticked-off this time?

Oooo, well, it *might* have something to do with this:
Quote from Why do so many women lie about what they eat
"...Liarexic. Yes, we know that some people object to the trivialisation of anorexia by other forms of disordered eating adopting their suffix.
But we didn’t make up this name, we’re just telling you about it.
Apparently Liarexia is the notion that people, namely women, will eat large amounts of food (or a particular type of food eg: burgers and fries) in public yet strictly limit their portions in private. A new eating disorder if you will."
Two things immediately ticked-me-off regarding the contents of this article (written by a freelance graphic designer):
firstly the perpetuation of media-concocted-passing-itself-off-as-medical bollocks, and
secondly the flippant and arrogant way in which are instructed not to be annoyed by the fact that they doing exactly that; perpetuating the bollocks.

Yes fine, you didn't make up the term, but you know what - the "she started it" excuse didn't wash with your mum, so why try it on with us?

But of course it is not this article in isolation that is so damaging - it is the rapidly increasing trend by the media to just make stuff up!! In addition to Liarexia, here are some of the others I've heard recently (all [abridged] definitions courtesy of such paragons of wisdom as:  Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia):

tanorexia (a disease like anorexia, no matter how tan a person is they never think they are tan enough)
Brideorexia (When a bride goes overboard trying to get skinny for her wedding day)

Sexual-anorexia (loss of "appetite" for romantic-sexual interaction)

drunkorexia (The practice of replacing meals with booze.)

wannarexia (An imaginary disease most commonly found amongst preteen to teenage, overweight, females whom claim to have the eating disorder anorexia)

pregorexia  (The state of being extremely skinny to the point of being nearly anorexic when pregnant)

exorexia (someone who exercises far too much, to the point of obsession)

and, oh joy...
fatorexia (opposite anorexia. Thinking ones self is too thin)

But surely just repeating these new little invented nick-names is just a bit of fun? Yay! I mean this kind of thing wouldn't embarrass someone into hiding an eating disorder would it? Well then perhaps you can explain to me why we don't make up witty names to have a good laugh about how smokers are increasing their risk of cancer? Perhaps we could call them cancer-groupies. No? Why not? Because it would be disgusting. Abhorrent. And completely unacceptable.

So why is the trivialisation of the most deadly mental illness acceptable?

Continued minimisation not only reduces the seriousness of this disease in the eyes of the general public, but it humiliates sufferers and perpetuates the stigma associated with it.

But it's all in good fun, so it couldn't really be serious...

At the time I wrote this 11,155 people 'liked' this website. That's a lot of people who have just been influenced to think anorexia is a joke.


M said...

Thank you for capturing my frustration so well! I read and mostly enjoy MM too, but this article really distressed me, I think especially in light of the today report showing that there is an increase in Ed sufferers over 35 seeking treatment. One media report challenging common assumptions that eds are for self centred teens and showing they are serious mental illnesses immediately undermined.

Would you consider posting this as a comment? I think it would be really valuable

Kat said...

I think the media puts trendy names on things so that they will catch on.

I actually think that two of those are forms of *real* eating disorders.. and it's sad that the seriousness of them is being dwindled in favor of sensationalism...

PJ said...

@Kat - I completely agree. Yes, I think many of these ridiculous labels would be disguising diagnosible EDs.
I can't tell you how seriously I consider anorexia in someone carrying a baby. It is terrifying to think about. But it would not be done out of a superficial wish to look like Kate Moss - as is so generously hypothesised by the media.
Quoting from the opening line of a recent cbs online article "Some women get so obsessed with keeping their weight in check while pregnant that they go overboard on dieting and exercise and put their baby's health at some risk, experts say" - now if that doesn't say 'you are vain and silly' well I don't know what it says. If I was in their position I would feel guilty and that guilt would keep me quiet. And if their article causes even one woman to remain quiet then I hope they are held accountable.

sui ~ cynosure said...

I agree. I was actually reading a sociology article today about Women, Beauty, & Body Image and how the notion of eating disorders being a "disease" at all puts so much blame on the person rather than the environment (media, culture, advertising, etc.) that perpetuates (and in some ways creates) such behavior.

PJ said...

@sui~cynosure - actually I would have to disagree with the thinking behind that article (which I have not read mind you :). I do believe anorexia is a mental illness (for want of a better term). And I do believe that a large proportion of the emergence of an eating disorder is genetically based (and medical research support this) - yes the environment may provide the trigger for this behaviour but why did that person turn to those behaviours in the first place?
What I am objecting to here is not the apportioning of blame but the flagrant misuse and continued use of media-concocted terms which (incorrectly) utilise the suffix for the purpose of an attention-grabbing headline.

sui solitaire said...

@PJ: oh, no, I do believe that eating disorders are mental illnesses as well. I'm just saying that emphasis on it as a disease tends to place blame on the sufferers rather than critiquing the external factors that encourage and sometimes spark eating disorders. but perhaps I'm just talking about a whole other topic entirely XD;; my mind goes in many places!