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Discussion:
The Body Politic
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In writing a letter to a DS friend of mine who is in the hospital, I had a thought to include a copy of my favorite essay- "The Body Politic" by Abra Fortune Chernik.

I first read this essay in a women's health class, just weeks after I had left IP. I have avoided reading this essay for almost a year now. When I was struggling last summer and fall, I was afraid that reading it would renew my desire for recovery, causing even greater conflict than I was already experiencing.

After 3 months of healthy thoughts and behaviors, I finally dug out the essay to read once more. I promise I am not exaggerating when I say that I love every single word of this essay. I wish it were practical to quote it in its entirety, right here, right now. But instead, I will share the very end with you all, as it concisely captures Chernik's message:


"I had looked forward to rejoining society after my years of anorexic exile. Ironically, in order to preserve my health, my recovery has included th development of a consciousness that actively challenges the images and ideas that define this culture.

.............

...For the first time in history, young women have the opportunity to create a world in our image. But many of us concentrate instead on recreating the shape of our thighs.

As young feminists, we must place unconditional acceptance of our bodies at the top of our political agenda. We must claim our bodies as our own to love and honor in their infinite shapes and sizes. Fat, thin, soft, hard, puckered, smooth, or bodies are our homes. By nourishing our bodies, we care for and love ourselves on the most basic level. when we deny ourselves physical food, we go hungry emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and politically. We must challenge ourselves to eat and digest, and allow society to call us too big. We will understand their message to mean too powerful.

Time goes by quickly. One day we will blink and open our eyes as old women. If we spend all our energy keeping our bodies small, what will we have to show for our lives when we reach the end? I hope we have more than a group of fashionably skinny figures."
Posted on 03/07/09, 11:33 pm
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Reply #1 - 03/08/09  8:50am
" It's a powerful message, though speaks to a very limited number of women and men struggling with EDs. I know I'm not looking to have a beautiful or attractive body, so mentioning something about you'll only be left with a "fashionably skinny body" doesn't really apply.

However, it's true that your body is a vehicle for your message, and the more acceptance that is taught, the better and more expanded this earth will become.

Thanks for this. "
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Reply #2 - 03/08/09  11:20am
" I think if we dig deep, it speaks to more of us than we may realize. EDs are absolutely much more complicated than wanting a "fashionably skinny body,"- we know all too well the myriad of biological mechanisms that affect our EDs.

Dieting culture, pressure to be thin and value thinness... these reach each and every one of us and we can't deny that they have SOME impact on the quality of our lives. This essay speaks more to us as women (as most of us are), rather than solely as ED sufferers.

I wanted to post this as a reminder to us all that the "normalcy" we sometimes look to society to provide can be seriously flawed. "
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Reply #3 - 03/08/09  1:18pm
" Yeah, for sure. That's why I appreciated the message. It's just, I know my ED has nothing to do with the dieting culture and what-not, so that's why I mentioned it. "

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