Writers do well not to discourage reading. Writers must be and must have readers. But the literature of eating disorders too often drains my will to read. The reflexive polemics and inaccessible jargon and grinding a point to death: or maybe I'm just tired.
Tired of good ideas inadequately expressed, or expressed along with terribly bad ideas. Good information delivered so breathlessly as to discredit itself or have to live the adjective half-life of "controversial." Tired of good writing devoted to poor insights. The last stings most.
We have no way of stopping such tripe as The Anorexic Statement, a poetic flight into the writer's own health and the people she uses as psychoanalytic objects of her despair. Even the rebuttal, brave and thoughtful, can further fail the topic: from Freud to Bruch is not the distance needed.
A lovely antidote, however, appears today, and may there be more:
We need a "Wasted" for 2013 -- that would not only be true but would capture the popular imagination. A "Best Little Girl in the World" with the same heroine but a very different treatment team. We need to replace "Thin" on movie lists, and retire the unicorns. We need A Beautiful Mind for EDs, and Lorenzo's Oil for the parents. We need art and poetry to reflect the real story: that patients of EDs suffer deeply but also recover heroically from an illness, not from the social ill of the week. We need the story told of families as supporting cast not villains. We need an eating disorder therapist that Harrison Ford or Sally Field can play in the movie version. We need a best-selling song about courageous eating, friends rallying behind an ill patient, grandmothers making casseroles -- and a Rockwell painting of a family leaving a clinic together for the last time, smiling.
We need documentaries that reveal the true misery of families, expose the snake oil purveyors, and leave out the visual cliches of mirrors and slow-motion headless binging.
There are villains: but they are as likely to be insurance adjustors and jaded clinic directors and well-meaning track coaches as anyone.
The real stories of eating disorders are dramatic and complex and poetic as the exhausted storyline the public knows. I think they're ready. I sure am.