Sunday, 28 August 2011

Ex nihilo nihil fit

I can bang on about how much I've changed for paragraphs but it took me until this summer to realise the extent to which I'd really changed, and actually believed it. I went travelling around southern africa and ended up teaching in several schools whilst I was out there. Each day I encounterd children who were ecstatic to have access to children's books and writing materials which was an incredibly humbling experience. Yet it was their attitude to my body which ashamed me the most. The children would often compliment on being fat and on one occasion I had to confiscate my camera from a group of boys who'd found a photo of my birthday cake and were salivating over it. Most of the children I taught usually ate one meal a day, provided by the world food programme. This was often out-of-date oats or corn meal cooked at their schools.

I can't describe the feelings of shame this stirred in me. The day I got back, I went to a dinner party where the other guests were discussing the various diets they were on (the Dukan was particularly popular) and I enthusiastically joined in (I've been introduced to a model friend of a friend as 'ask Daisy anything about losing weight - she used to be anorexic). Yet I know what we spend on diet pills, diet books, gym membership and the other tools of our self-loathing could feed those children for months. That is disgusting. Similarly it disturbs how casually people euphimistically people talk about eating disorders and the way they are glamourised by the media. Clearly none of them have crouched over a filthy public toilet with their hands caked in vomit.

I don't know what I'm saying here - if you're reading this blog and you have an eating disorder then you know all too well that blend of disgust at yourself but the inability to stop. If you don't then you probably also judge those who starve themselves out of choice. I suppose if there was something I'm saying it would be - get out. Go somewhere new, preferably far away. Do something for somebody else until you forget about your body and start caring about someone else's. This trip has healed me far more than any therapist ever has simply by opening my eyes and shaking me out of the apathy and self-obsession. It's just a pity I'm back.