New York Times Blog and Commenters on Eating Disorders. Oh Dear.

I did not study rhetoric.  I was not on the debate club.  I did not study logic.  But I have thoughts.  So let's do this in sections.

The piece:  "An Older Generation Falls Prey to Eating Disorders" on the NY Times blog "Well" written by Tara Parker-Pope.

The piece, on the one hand:  Yup, eating disorders aren't just a rich teeny-bopper trend anymore.  Glad you noticed.  Glad their existence is garnering some kind of coverage.

The piece, on the other hand:  There are so many problems with this well-intentioned piece, not least of which is that it assumes and perpetuates the fallacy that eating disorders are about weight, shape, food, etc.  The symptoms revolve around weight, shape, food, etc.  The disorders are not about those things.

My next issue with the piece is that it seems like it was written/edited without regard to the most basic of trigger knowledge about eating disorders, assuming it was written with eating disordered readers at least partially in mind.  Pieces like this love to, in my opinion unnecessarily, chart the height and low weight/high weight of the interview subjects.

Third, and perhaps most irritating to me:  People of all ages with eating disorders.  They have been around since the invention of eating disorders.  Trufax.  This irritates me on the level of a NY Times piece several years ago about "drunkorexia," that was to say, eating disordered people who abuse alcohol and therefore get most of their calories through booze.  People with eating disorders - especially bulimia - who have substance abuse problems.  They have been around since the invention of eating disorders and also substances.

Fourth and very parenthetically, the piece lists common disordered behaviors, but totally ignores purging, by far and away one of the most common symptoms in clinical-level eating disorders.  Going by the numbers, there are vastly more patients with purgative behaviors, i.e. bulimic behaviors, than with strictly anorexic/restrictive behaviors.  Again, going by the numbers, the most common purgative behavior is vomiting.  It just seems weird that a piece purporting to teach about eating disorders would eliminate the most common eating disorder behavior in anorexia and bulimia.  (Binge eating does not, by definition, include compensatory purging.)

I mostly enjoy "Well," though when it does fat/food/ED pieces like this, it tend to bug me because they tend to be written from this same half-researched, awkwardly-worded place.  But, again, a well meaning place, I think.

Moving on.

The comments:  Why am I even surprised?

I am struggling to cultivate detached compassion about this one, this one (same person) (who is in love with Camille Paglia), and this one.

This one just needs to learn more about nutrition.

But this one is just so out-of-left-field-awful that it's actually hilarious.

Shorter CN:  I'm not so good at arguing.  I sputter a lot.  I use this emoticon when in doubt:  o_O

Shorter, shorter CN:     o_O        >_<    

1 comment:

  1. Hi - I have a relevant guest post regarding eating disorders and children. Wondered if you'd like to take a look?

    I also do Monday Madness - a blog linky for mental health bloggers every week, and Awareness day on Wednesdays. Hope to see you over at wordsinsync soon - OH - For those who participate in the linky's I offer the chance of a feature on Thursdays too. Shah .X


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