I'm gathering quotes etc. from books (on the topic of eating disorders) that I've read. I will more add reviews and quotes
each time I update the site.
Second Star to The Right, by Deborah Hautzig
This is one of my favorites, particularly because I can relate to some aspects of the main character, Leslie. She comes from
a good home and has stable and loving parents. Yet she still has problems with herself. I'm the same way. I recommend this
book, it's a quick read and very good. Here's some passages I enjoyed most...
"Things don't just happen the way they do in movies, with clear-cut reasons. If my parents had deserted me or beaten
me up of if I'd been deprived in some visible way, I could say 'See? This is why.' Even if it weren't the whole truth, it
would look and sound legitimate. But I can't say any of those things."
"You can learn to love anything, I think, if you need to badly enough. I trained myself to enjoy feeling hungry.
If my stomach contracts, or I wake up feeling nauseated, or I'm light-headed, or I have a hunger headache, or better yet,
all of the above, it means I'm getting thinner. So it feels good. I feel strong, on top of myself. In control. Thanks to the
dictator [...] It was as though this person, this dictator, had taken up residence inside me to keep me in line. It wasn't
simply that I chose not to eat. I was forbidden to. Even thinking about eating forbidden foods brought punishment. It's so
hard to explain. It was like an iron wall would drop, barring me from even looking and smashing me for trying. 'How dare you,'
this voice inside me would say, 'You greedy pig!' And I was grateful to have someone looking out for me-- a kind of savior
keeping me from being weak, and fat, keeping me from hurting. Making me respect myself. Hunger, I thought, is a minuscule
price to pay. To be thin no price is too high. The sky's the limit."
*more to come from this book . . .
The Hanged Man, by Francesca Lia Block
This book is really not about anorexia in the same way the other books I have on this page are. The main character makes references
to suffering from anorexia, but the book itself isn't about her struggle with it. It's kind of a weird story that's more reminiscent
of a film you'd see on the Independent Film Channel or something. Nonetheless, I recommend giving it a try because it is a
very interesting style of writing and one of my favorite books. And there are, of course, some really good quotes...
"I feel like Hansel and Gretel. Didn't the witch stuff them in the oven? But I won't eat all that candy Hansel and
Gretel ate. I will be thin and pure like a glass cup. Empty. Pure as light. Music. I move my hands over my body- my shoulders,
collar bone, my rib cage, my hip bones like part of an animal skull, my small thighs. In the mirror my face is pale and my
eyes look bruised. My hair is pale and thin and the light comes through. I could be a lot younger than seventeen, I could
be a child still, untouched." (14)
"Claudia buys a piece of pizza. The rich smell of scalding cheese. 'You should eat,' she says. But I don't take a
"'You've just got to cool out. And eat. Look how skinny you are. They say when your body's under stress, your period's
the first thing to go. We should get out of here. Go to Italy or something. The sexiest men in the world. Gods, I'm serious.
And they've got that art. Boticelli and everything. We'd fatten you up on loads of pasta and wine. What are you afraid of
anyway?' I think of women with fat clotted at their bellies, thighs, buttocks. Hemorrhaging blood. But I won't tell Claudia.
I think of fairies without breasts and they're floating.." (53)
"Have you ever had the sensation of losing flesh? You begin to feel the bones of your skeleton under your flesh.
Bones of the shoulders. Bones of the rib cage. Bones of the hips. It is like finding a new being, one free of desire, free
of time, almost." (95)
"I hear horror stories about girls who don't eat- how their hair turns white and their gums bleed. But I feel beautiful,
perfect. I am all pale bone, and bone-pale flesh and pale hair and I am light. I am like some fairy thing. I dream about fairies
dancing around the house with their rib cages showing like baskets under their flesh. I could drift up and away from here.
I am so light. Bound by nothing. Not even time. And I am pure now." (96)
Wasted, by Marya Hornbacher
This book is really well written. The author is the main character and the story is essentially an autobiography. She gives
a lot of insight into what it's like to be truly anorexic..
"That night, while my father is cooking dinner, I lean against his knees and announce, I'm not hungry. I'm on a diet.
My father laughs. Feet dangling from my chair at the table, I stare at the food, push it around, glance surreptitiously at
my mother's plate, her nervous little bites. The way she leans back in her chair, setting down her fork to gesture rapidly
with her hands as she speaks. My father, bent over his plate, eating in huge bites. My mother shoves her dinner away, precisely
half eaten. My father tells her she wastes food, that he hates the way she always wastes food. My mother snaps back defensively,
I'm full, dear. Glares. I push my plate away, say loudly, I'm full. And all eyes turn on me. Come on, Piglet, says my mother.
A few more bites. Two more, she says. Three, says my father. They glare at each other. I eat a pea." (11-12)
"I did not like to be touched, but it was a strange dislike. I did not like to be touched because I craved it too
much. I wanted to be held very tight so I would not break. Even now, when people lean down to touch me, or hug me, or put
a hand on my shoulder, I hold my breath. I turn my face. I want to cry." (pg. 14)
"The shrinks scrawl these words on their notepads: Magical thinking. Their books call it "a disposition to regard
the metaphoric as the concrete" and "to attribute primitive magical powers" to objects. One might, for example,
attribute magical powers to food. For example, if I am three years old and standing on a chair making myself an apple sandwich,
and if I eat this apple in precisely twenty bites, no more no less, then I will be happy. If I eat it in more than twenty
bites, I will be sad. If I am nineteen years old, sixty pounds, and eating a carton of yogurt a day, and it takes me precisely
two hours to eat this carton of yogurt, and I smoke a cigarette every fifteen minutes to prove that I can stop eating, then
I will be safe, retaining my dictorial grip on my body, my life, my world." (20)
"I got new school clothes. I did not wear slim-sized jeans, I wore "regulars," and my cousin, whom I trotted
after like a puppy and whom I aspired to emulate in all ways, wore "slims," a fact that was, as I recall, discussed
at length between my mother and aunt. I developed a deep, abiding fear of jeans, which I still have. I hold my breath and
shut my eyes when I pull on a pair in the dressing room, afraid they will now, as then, get stuck at my hips, and there I
will stand, absurd, staring at the excess of hips that should, if I were a good person, be "slim." Slim is such
a strange, grinning sort of word, sliding out of the mouth, ending in the labial hum of "immm." It's the sound of
the girl in the 1980s Chic jeans commercials, slipping snakelike into her slim chic jeans. Slimmmmmm." (38)
"Into the shower, out of the shower, climb up on the toilet with a hand mirror: look, peer, examine, critique. Frontal
view first. Legs too short, too round, thighs touch. Seventeen magazine advises that thighs should not touch. Mine touch.
I suck. It's all over. How can I hide it? How can I stand so I'm not swaybacked? How can I curve myself inward, as if preparing
to implode? Left side: butt too round, juts out, major gross, ohmigod, the butt, the horrible butt, the butt that is so undeniably
a butt. Rear view: hips curve out from the waist. Are those saddlebags already? Butt, the butt! Two hand spans wide. Oh, f*ck
it all! Right side: the f*cking butt! Who said I wanted a butt? Why can't I have a flat butt, the kind that seems to sink
right into the pocket of Guess jeans when the leg goes back? I don't want his thing, this round, imperious, proud little butt."
"Sitting in detention one day after school, I was reading and eating a bag of chips. The teacher didn't know it was
the first thing I'd eaten all day, and would also be the last. She didn't know I was bulimic. She was a nice person who encouraged
my writing, often calling me into her classroom to say, in a very concerned voice, that I wasn't living up to my Potential.
There was nothing wrong with her, so I don't blame her for this. She said, wagging her finger at me as I munched away on my
bag of chips, 'A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.' I stopped midchew. On my way out the door, I dropped my bag of
chips in the garbage can, headed straight for the bathroom, threw up in the stall farthest from the door."(62)
"And the sharp hiss of one voice that started out softly, as though below layers of moss, or flesh, and gradually
became so loud it drowned out everything else: Thinner, it said. You've got to get thinner." (69)
"I spent my nights up late: towel pressed against the crack below the door to block the thin knife of light, one
light on the bedside table. I lay on my side on the green carpet of my bedroom floor, in front of the mirror, watching my
legs move up and down, and up and down, in endless calisthenics, a precise number of each. Even if the muscles, weakened,
began to tremble, I kept lifting, thinking lazy bitch. Left side first, then right side, then standing, then on my back, then
on my belly. I watched each inch of my flesh as it flexed and relaxed, got lost in the repetition, got off on the image, pictured
myself smaller, and smaller, and smaller, until I was no more than a slip of a thing. I pulled my thighs apart to see how
they'd look when I got skinny, pinched hard at the excess, tried to smother the wellspring of terror that rose in my chest
when I thought: I'm fat. If the terror would not go down, I'd promise myself: no food tomorrow. None. That let me breathe
a little easier. The punishment seemed just, seemed as if it might make things better, more organized, the calming twist of
hunger in the chest might remind me that things were all right." (73-74)
"This is one of the terribly banal truths of eating disorders: when a woman is thin in this culture, she proves her
worth, in a way that no great accomplishment, no stellar career, nothing at all can match. We believe she has done what centuries
of collective unconscious insist that no woman can do; control herself. A woman who can control herself is almost as good
as a man. A thin woman can Have It All." (81-82)
"When the tour was over, I flew to Seattle to meet my mother. We were visiting my alcoholic grandfather and his alcoholic,
anorexic wife. I hadn't seen either of them since I was ten years old. In the meantime, I had, of course, gotten older, and
lost my darling-girl factor. I was now considered a threat by my stepgrandmother. She'd bought me an outfit suitable for a
ten-year-old that was too tight and made me look like a sausage. I cried and said I was fat, alone in the guest room with
my mother. My mother sniffed and told me to stop it. I saved the outfit. I wore it almost every day in the hospital a few
years later when I was seventeen, and it hung from the bones of my shoulders and hips, bagging at the ankles and ass."
"When you coast without eating for a significant amount of time, and you are still alive, you begin to scoff at those
fools who believe they must eat to live. It seems blatantly obvious to you that this is not true. You get up in the morning,
you do your work, you run, you do not eat, you live." (110-111)
"A lady will eat like a bird. A lady will look like a bird, fragile boned and powerful when in flight, lifting weightless
into the air." (118)
"This pleases you, just as the small knives of pain please you when you run, the stabbing pain of each step, just
as the worried, muted words of friends please you, just as your own voice pleases you when you say to them, I just can't stop.
You've made a decision: You will not stop. The pain is necessary, especially the pain of hunger. It reassures you that you
are strong, you can withstand anything, that you are not a slave to your body, you don't have to give in to its whining."
"A window by the toilet, a fan, a heater, the whir and tick of which are just enough to cover the noise. A shower.
A scale. The scale is two pounds off. When you arrive, you weigh 102. You watch the needle falter toward that number, then
fall back, as if in time elapse, fall back, back, when you step into the scale each day, ten times a day. Give or take a few.
When you wake up, when you get home from school, after you binge, after you purge, when you eat dinner, after you throw up
dinner, before you pee, after you pee, before you gulp handfuls of laxatives, after they take their hideous affect."
*more to come from this book . . .
Stick Figure, by Lori Gottlieb
This book was more shocking to me only because it was from the viewpoint of an 11 year old. It is the year long diary of the
author's bout with anorexia at the age of 11. It was most interesting to me I think, though, because of the social commentary
it offered on the society's image of women on the whole. Being anorexic can result from so many things in one's life and
can be a very individual illness, but the push of society for women to achieve the thin ideal only proves to exacerbate the
problem and anyone who argues otherwise is either blind or stupid. We've all fallen prey to it, I of all people would never
argue otherwise. I mean, just take a look at all the thinspiration pages I've got here on the site..
*quotes to come . . .
The Best Little Girl in the World, by Steven Levenkron
A good read. It is often acclaimed as one of the greatest novels regarding anorexia. In my opinion it was a little too textbook
and slightly pretentious. While it doesn’t read like a textbook, the story is essentially the textbook case in terms
of causes of anorexia. Some of the explanations for the main character's illness were a little too behind the times for my
taste. But there were still some very inspirational passages nonetheless..
*quotes to come . . .