The Skinny on Fat

“Dear Ms. Mix & Bitch,

I am writing to you because I think my older sister has an eating disorder. In fact, I know she does. She and my mom have always been obsessed with their weight – going on diets together, comparing notes on what works and what doesn’t work.  My dad and I always thought they were ridiculous, but never worried about it – until my sister came home from college during spring break earlier this year. Not only did she not gain the “freshman fifteen,” but she managed to lose a lot of weight. I don’t know exactly how much she weighs, but I know that she’s 5’5 and used to wear a size 6. When she came home from spring break, she was a size 2. Now, she’s home for the summer and bragging she’s a size 0. My dad and I are flipped about this – but my mom thinks we’re overreacting, saying she’s right in line with the “Hollywood set.” Because my mom encourages my sister, she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong – and says I’m just jealous because I’m so huge (oh yeah, I’m a heffer at 5’3 and 120lbs). I know this is having a bad effect on her. Besides being bitchier than usual, I know she stopped getting her period because she handed me a box of tampons and said, “keep them, I don’t need them anymore.” I haven’t told my dad or mom that part, but I think I should. But what can I do when she won’t help herself?


Dear Fab Little Sis Who Obviously Inherited Her Brains from Her Dad –

 I’m going to keep this short because basically I’m just going to confirm what you already know: you’re mom’s an idiot and your sister has a severe eating disorder. So, what can you do? First thing, tell your parents about her stopped periods. Perhaps that physiologically red flag (pardon the pun) will get your dad into action and your mom to remove her head out of her ass.  What can you all do? If your sister refuses to get help, then you can find a psychiatrist/psychologist specializing in eating disorders to deem her a threat to herself and have her committed to an eating disorder clinic. Many insurance plans cover some, if not all, of the treatment. However, know going into this that about 10% of those afflicted die of this disease – and even those in recovery struggle with the disease for the rest of their lives. It’s a bitch, to say the least – made worse if she buys into this mental illness, which it seems she does at present.

And MAJOR kudos to you for not buying into the family bullcrap. It can’t be easy being left out of their little club – no matter how dysfunctional the membership guidelines may be. Latching onto your dad as an emotional roll model is  a good survivalist strategy – one that will bode well for your self esteem growth and, frankly, the kinds of partners you choose for yourself down the line.

Hopefully, your sister will get the help she needs – and if the place is worth its salt, so to speak, then they’ll do extensive family counseling sessions as well. It sounds as if there’s a lot going on here besides big sister eschewing Big Macs. Good luck.

 For some reason, it feels like bad taste to make a mix for this particular dilemma. Sorry. But I recommend you see the HBO documentary, “Thin.”


7 responses to “The Skinny on Fat

  1. I’ll never understand why girls do this to themselves.

  2. Same here – anorexia is so ’87, but hey, the 80s are making a comeback.

  3. Perhaps you’re being a little too glib here, Ms. Bitch? What about some compassion?

  4. Hey, that’s kind of mean. Eatings disorders aren’t fads that come back in style or not. And one doesn’t “buy into” any mental illness. It happens. Out of one’s control.

    If the older sister is in college, she’s probably over 18, so is the law even able to legally send her to an ED clinic? Doubtful.

    I’m hearing more and more that insurance plans aren’t covering eating disorder treatment. In the U.S.A. it’s about 60 grand for two month treatment. Ouch.

    “Those in recovery struggle with this disease for the rest of their lives”? Where did you get this information? I’m curious.

  5. You’re right. It is mean. But this is a tongue-in-cheek blog, not the APA.

    As far as the over 18 thing, if a licensed mental health professional deems someone a threat to his or herself – and she’s unwilling to get help – then here in DC we can issue a FD-12 order. Which basically commits an adult to a psychiatric facility, where they are evaluated further.

    You’re right about the insurance plans – many are starting to not cover ED treatment – or if so, in limited amounts. Again, insurance coverage is like the Indian caste system – with PPO’s offering the most aid, while HMOs very little – and forget Medicaid.

    As far as the stat about those in recovery suffering with the disease (not in full force, BTW, but some form) that came from the APA’s website – go to APA stands for the American Psychological Association.

    All good points – and I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Hope to see you again around here soon.

  6. I have to defend the Eating Disordered girls on this one, because I was disordered and I’m recovering from Anorexia. It’s not like having an Eating Disorder is a “choice”. Okay, I’ll play devils advocate and say either you choose to eat or you don’t, but sometimes life stuff comes up and it’s easier to cope by engaging in unhealthy behaviors like purging or restricting calories. I know it sounds like “how can you do that?” but it’s so not about the food– and for her, it’s probably not the same. She may think she’s doing a little “diet” but that so-called “diet” can literally kill you. It’s not even funny. I mean I just read today that one of the participants in the documentary “Thin” Polly Williams died Friday. There’s a rumor it was suicide, but still… it’s not like you can say “she died from her Eating Disorder” because that was only PART of the issue. There are many health complications when it comes to Eating Disorders, not just the physical side effects, but also mental ones too.

    Whatever she’s going through, she thinks it’s under control, but it’s clearly not.

  7. Interesting. I never said an eating disorder was a “choice” – my criticism is geared more toward the writer’s mother for encouraging her eldest daughter’s illness – I never attacked the anorexic herself.

    And you’re right…anorexia is not about food, but a desperate form of control in whatever chaos is going on in the patient’s life. Usually family issues, wanting to avoid “growing up,” etc…

    I can understand that those who struggle with this don’t find this post funny. But you know what??? I think it’s critical to find the exaasperated humor in ALL situations…I myself have wrestled with depression on and off for years – and not just “feel like a bad day” blues. Times I could barely care for myself…and I laugh about it frequently when it comes up…it doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously. It means I’m the one guiding this tour bus and not the other way around.

    I must add this though…there IS an element of self-indulgence to eating disorders, depressive disorders,etc…while some of these illnesses are, in part, chemically induced in our brains…part of it is ALWAYS within our control. Free will is part of this equation.

    Case in point: my first major depressive disorder lasted on and off for 2 years…the details too ugly to share. The next one I had only lasted 4-6 months…what’s the difference?

    I have two children and I didn’t have the luxury of a nervous breakdown. I had to get up every morning and feed, bathe, shuttle-around my kids. I got help fast because I needed to get better for reasons outside myself.

    But that’s what worked for me and everyone needs to find their own way. Good luck in yours.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s