Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Do we really want to look like this?

A few weeks ago I interviewed a young lady who is recovering from bulimia and anorexia nervosa. The aim of the article was to highlight the rise in eating disorders within the black community. There is strong data to support that there has been an increase in the amount of black women being seduced by the dominant images of skinny women in the media, particularly on television and in women's magazines. When I met Susan (the girl I interviewed for the piece), what struck me is just how normal she was. In truth I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe I thought she'd be clueless or suffering from the 'black girl lost' syndrome in the sense of not being fully engaged in her community. But on the contrary I found her to be a really intelligent and articulate woman. And boy has she been through a lot. In short, she was working as a model doing music videos and promtional work when she began to feel insecure about her weight. As a curvy size 12-14, she felt, like many women, that she could do with losing a couple of pounds. And hence began a slippery slope of self destruction through an eating disorder. At her worse, Susan had a BMI of just 17.5 and was surviving on just grapes, with the odd bowl of soup for a treat. The extreme diet took such a toll on her body that a lot of her organs were damaged. Eventually she was was dragged to a doctor who took one look at her and insisted she be hospitalised or she simply wouldn't survive. In the end this marked a turning point in her rehabilitation, and she's now fully on the road to recovery. But Susan and other medical professionals believe that the rise in eating disorders among black women could be a potential ticking time-bomb because it's generally assumed that black women have a more positive attitude to curvaceous body types, and thus are excluded from targeted awareness campaigns. Let's hope that with the likes of Susan all this is set to change.

1 comment:

joshua said...

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I am a thirty-something African Caribbean female from South East London. My blog will shine a light on Black British culture offering the best in entertainment, fashion, beauty, community, film & music, with the occasional personal musing thrown in from yours truly. Thank you for taking out the time to peek into the pages of my diary. Now grab a cup of cocoa, relax and enjoy.