Friday 29 July 2011

What about the starving children in Africa, Ben?

Ben and I spent a highly insightful hour sitting at the dinner table last night. One of the topics we covered was the starving children of Somalia and how, back at the start of the anorexia, I could never get my head round why children in affluent Western countries 'chose' to starve themselves whereas many Third World children have no choice.

"Right back at the start, before I knew anything about how the eating disordered mind works, I used to think that watching these tragic news reports might make you realise how fortunate you are, spring into action and stop starving yourself. 

"I used to think 'Here I am, a parent in the affluent UK. I could provide any food I want for my beloved child, yet he chooses to starve himself. There she is, a parent in some war-torn African country, with zero food to give her beloved child and he has no choice but to starve. Both of us moms are going through the heartbreak of watching our children potentially starve to death yet the big difference is that, in theory, I can save my child whereas she can't.'

"I used to think how incredibly selfish. That child had no choice but to watch his mother's heart break as he starved; you DID have a choice - you could go to Tesco's and get any food under the sun, and loads of it."

I also used to feel so incredibly frustrated and impotent, surrounded by all this readily-available food while my child chose to starve. As the 'nurturer' mother, I felt so incredibly guilty; as if it was my fault he wouldn't eat.

Not surprisingly, the anorexic mind doesn't see it in the same way. "The way I saw it," said Ben, "was that here I am surrounded by all this food. To have so much readily available food is disgusting when people in the Third World are starving. Here in the West the vast majority of people eat far too much and / or don't eat healthily. Far from being selfish, the anorexia was telling me my actions were Good Things i.e. I wasn't behaving like greedy, obese Westerners do."


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