A Rose with Starry Eyes

{March 18, 2010}   PBS CRON interviews

{March 12, 2010}   Elyse on ANTM

Britain’s Next Top Model anorexia blog: http://the-f-word.org/blog/index.php/2009/04/14/britains-next-top-model-from-anorexic-ideal-to-openly-anorexic/

HUUUUUUGE thread about Elyse: http://www.fansofrealitytv.com/beta/america-s-next-top-model-10/6924-elyse-124.html

blurb about Elyse: http://everything2.com/title/Elyse+Sewell

thread discusses Elyse’s supposed anorexia; AMAZING notes on hypocrisy: http://forums.televisionwithoutpity.com/index.php?showtopic=3117370&st=30

  • Elyse was 5’10” and 114, which is 8 pounds heavier than the same-height Shandi, who got next to no hassling on the show for having those proportions, even after she fainted. Then again, the other contestants didn’t see Shandi as much of a threat (cue “Aw, Shandi.”), unlike Elyse. Keeping your mouth shut can pay dividends.
  • I’m not sure the eating disorder was fake…she looks seriously unhealthy to me, and even her buddy Adrienne indicated that something was fishy. Obviously nothing can be proven based on the footage we saw, but I don’t think we can say definitively whether she had one or not, just because Elyse and her boyfriend claim that she loves ice cream or whatever. I think I really began to loathe Elyse when she said that of course she couldn’t have an eating disorder, because she was so dang smart and knew much more about eating disorders than any of the other girls. Well honey, if you did know a lot about eating disorders, you would realize that chicks like you often develop them. I know several female medical students who are extremely intelligent, driven, and arrogant who suffer from eating disorders. Just because you’re smart and know what they are doesn’t mean you can’t have one.
  • J. Alexander saying she’s great for clothes. They do call the runway models “clothes hangers.” Crap, I think I said that about last season…anyway, she’s the actual body type. We all know that, though.
  • After watching all these other supposed models freak out over Elyse’s supposed eating disorder, it’s obvious none of them have a future in high fashion modeling, nor have a clue over what it’s all about.
    Have any of them ever watched any European fashion shows? If anything, most professional haute couture runway models make Elyse look quite healthy.
    Those gals are insanely tall, whispy rails, literal clothes hangers, and that’s the standard for the runways. I‘m sure most of them live on champage, cigarrettes, coffee, and the occasional salad…if they’re not snorting coke.
  • I think most women have a somewhat tenuous relationship with food. Elyse seems to feel good about her body. I know, she wants to stay that skinny and that’s a bit scary. At the same time, I have read a few studies showing how eating much less is actually good for you and can extend your life span significantly. She doesn’t look like she’s dying to me, or thin beyond her body’s comfort level. I know Adrianne was worried too, but the fact that Robin used it as a way to make Elyse seem like she shouldn’t be there (jeebus, how many fucking ways does she go out of her way to alienate Elyse?), makes me wanna say it isn’t true. If I heard her say something like, “Oh, no, I eat cookies and pastries all day long,” well, that’s like the red banner for eating disorders. She seems aware that she eats little, and doesn’t obsess all that much.
  • I’m not naturally THAT thin, but while I was seriously ill for over a year I had the eating disorder accusation thrown at me repeatedly at work, by friends, and (most fun) by doctors who wouldn’t listen to me. I got very defensive very fast about it. A lot of it was due to the tone and attitude people would take towards me when ‘expressing concern’. They wouldn’t ask a morbidly obese person standing next to me if they were a compulsive eater, but it was perfectly all right to them to grill me about what I ate, monitor me in public, and time the difference between my eating and my bathroom trips. And compare notes. I started yelling at people after a few months of that, too. And carrying around endoscopy pictures detailing why I was losing weight. And whipping them out. At restaurants. I could make anyone anorexic.
  • More on subject, I know how you feel about people questioning whether you have an eating disorder. When I went hyperthyroid for the first time, I dropped 20 pounds and was pretty skeletal. My mom kept accusing me of being anorexic, and it drove me nuts trying to explain to her that I was losing weight on purpose. I really empathize with Elyse. Even though I’ve gained the weight back, my eating philosophy is like Elyse’s: I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. And I’ve had quite a few friends make mean-spirited remarks about how I “never eat.” It gets old, fast.
  • Did anyone notice that she had a Bust magazine with her a few episodes ago?
  • Robin used every opportunity to bring up Elyse’s so-called eating disorder, notice? I like how she wore a freaking towel over her butt in the first few shoots, cried because of how she felt about her body, and then at the Zen sit-in, went on about how she embraced every curve on her precious god-given body, and then on and on (like the freakin prayer about those demons) about how the fashion industry makes people too skinny and have eating disorders, Elyse.
    Shannon looks more like she’s missing some nutrients due to poor eating habits. Her skin and hair look a little rough…
  • She has such a small stomach/frame anyway—why would she have a huge appetite? Different body types, different metabolism/appetite rates too.
    I’ve recently lost over 20 pounds, and some folks have actually asked me if I have an eating disorder because I don’t “care about food as much.”
    Hello, my stomach is smaller, hence my appetite is smaller! Why is this such a big mystery to some folks?
    If anything, she has a very healthy perspective of food—we’re not supposed to snack or graze throughout the day at the rate that most of America does, and most people DON’T know when to judge when they’ve eaten too much or when they’re actually hungry.
  • Re: Elyse’s abilities in medical school. She’ll do fine. However, she needs to understand that in med (and law) school, there is ALWAYS someone smarter than you. You’re a Regents Scholar? Your classmate is a Rhodes Scholar. Magna Cum Laude with a double major? Your classmate graduated Summa Cum Laude with three majors and finished in three years. Once she can understand that she will not be the best (something I had to accept as well), she’ll be fine.

Elyse’s livejournal: http://elysesewell.livejournal.com/

good thread: http://www.fansofrealitytv.com/forums/america-s-next-top-model/75184-antm-weight-body-issues-thread.html

  • Elyse also fainted, didn’t she? Or was that someone else? I know Elyse says she doesn’t have an ED and lord knows her blog is all about food, but seeing her eat oatmeal at a pizza parlor really looked like a model trying not to gain weight.
  • Shandi fainted during the makeup challenge. She was shoved into some hot lights and acknowledged afterwards that she hadn’t been eating properly.

{March 1, 2010}   distractions/etc.

Great things to watch on elliptical:

  • West Wing
  • Arthur on PBS
  • Fraiser
  • early Pokemon episodes
  • possibly start watching Gossip Girls?
  • Secret Diary of a Call Girl
  • Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days (some on Hulu)
  • Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency
  • ANTM (especially:
    • Cycle 1 with Elyse Sewell
    • Cycle 2 with Yoanna
    • Cycle 3 with Eva
    • Cycle 4 with Keenyah
    • Cycle 5 with Kim

Stuff to Look up Online:

  • Neil Gaiman’s blog
  • Ewan MacGregor’s motorcyle ride documentary?
  • artists such as Lee Miller and Liu Bolin
  • people with interesting histories such as Maya Angelou
  • musicians like Amanda Palmer, Joanna Newsom, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Sia, Elton John

Websites to check out:

My Disordered Eating Past

// // Feb

// 04

Polly is dead. She committed suicide on February 8, 2008, a likely result of her lifelong struggle with anorexia. I don’t know Polly but for some reason the news of her death went through me like a cold shiver, the same way it does any time I hear about a eating disordered woman who loses the battle.

So I did what any intelligent stalker-type does these days: I googled her. I discovered that her death made headlines because she was one of three eating-disordered women profiled in the HBO documentary “Thin” that aired back in 2006. Not watching TV, it has taken me this long to hear about it I suppose. Someone posted the entire documentary (in 11-minute segments) to You Tube. I watched it two nights ago and have been torn up ever since.

I’ve been mulling it over and trying to think of a way I could post about it – to let you know what an interesting, amazing, inspiring, and yet completely horrifying & depressing show it is – but I couldn’t think of an appropriate angle. It just hits too close to home for me. I see myself in every one of the girls profiled.

The Start
I’ve never been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder [edited to add: I have now! Compulsive over-exerciser, that’s me!] but there are times in my life where I think I definitely would have qualified for ED-NOS (eating disorder – not otherwise specified). As did far too many of my friends, I flirted with anorexia in high school & college, always managing to keep my weight just on the safe side of things. Always able to pull back when I really really needed to. I never cognizantly thought of the times where I would subsist on a single “fun size” package of candy for an entire day, several days in a row, as “restricting.” I just thought it was what girls did to stay thin.

Lots of girls I knew did it or things similar to it. Other waitresses at the restaurant I worked at taught me which foods had the least calories and tricks to make all the decadent food we were surrounded by look unappealing so we wouldn’t be tempted to eat it. Our dinner breaks were actually competitions to see who could eat the least actual food. Girls in my gymnastics classes taught me about not eating before a competition (the lower your weight, the higher you fly!) and then using massive doses of caffeine pills to mask the hunger & keep your energy up. Roommates taught me about “saving calories” by restricting all week so you could eat on a date and the guy would think you are one the cool girls who is thin but can eat whatever she wants.

This type of behavior also runs in my family – my grandmother, whom I still adore and think about almost daily despite her being dead for 20 years, was an active bulimic all her adult life. Two cousins were bulimic. Two more spent time in eating disorder clinics. And then of course there was the media – thin movie stars, even thinner fashion models. Even my health teacher encouraged disordered eating by requiring only the girls in class to keep a food journal, a practice I kept up for over ten years after her class ended. (The boys had carte blanche to eat whatever they “needed” to keep up their strength for sports and because they were still growing. Never mind that many of us girls were also in sports and also, duh, still growing.) I was surrounded, almost from birth, by our culture of thin. Every girl I knew was tainted by it.

The Decline
And yet my bouts of bad eating were interspersed with longer ones of health because my body’s will to survive and thrive was stronger than my willpower to starve. That is, until I met G. in college. He was my partner on a swing-dance team. He was an amazing dancer and, simultaneously, a sociopath. I saw something good in him and he, likewise, saw something in me: vulnerability. We began to date. The entire time we went out (if you can call it that), he abused me in every way possible. It started out small with little comments about how I was harder to lift than some of the other girls on our team – natural waifs, every last one of them. Then it progressed to screaming vitriol, that I cannot even now bring myself to repeat.

To cope, I did what came naturally – I stopped eating. I pulled out all the tricks I’d ever been taught over the years and combined them with hours of intensely athletic dancing. It worked. G. complimented me on my protruding hipbones. He liked that his hands could almost span my waist. He was happy. I was nearly destroyed. I fainted after a dance performance. I suffered heart palpitations, dizzy spells, nausea & insomnia. He finished the job by sexaully assaulting me. That was the end of my relationship with him, thanks to good friends and family, but the beginning of a kind of self-loathing I had never experienced before.

The Worst of It
After G., my weight went up a bit and stabilized. I met a great man who cared about my mind and my soul and honestly thought I was beautiful regardless of a few pounds up or down. I married him and for a few short years, managed to not think about food or weight at all. The hole in me wasn’t gone but at least it was covered up.

That came to an end when G. popped back into my life in the most horrific way possible. At the time, I had assumed that I was the only girl he had abused. Turns out he was a serial molester and had only gotten worse during the intervening years. I was contacted by the police and decided to press charges.

My only experience with our legal system being Law & Order reruns, I was wholly unprepared for the physical and mental nightmare of a sexual assault case. I was also pregnant with my third child. The interstate court case dragged on nine long months, exactly the length of my pregnancy. The longer it went on, the more I deteriorated. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. Despite being pregnant, I quickly reached the lowest weight I’d ever been. I thought about suicide every single day. The baby inside me was the only thing that stopped me from actually doing it. G. finally plea-bargained and got a year in prison, with time served. The very next day my son was born. Hale and hearty at ten pounds, he was beautiful child. I was broken.

The court case ended, everyone assumed I would feel empowered and vindicated and quickly ease back into my old perfect life as wife, teacher & mother. I think they assumed that because that is what they so desperately wanted for me. What did I want for me? I wanted desperately to finally heal. I thought being healthy physically would help me mentally. But this time my disordered eating snuck up on me as my quest for ultimate health devolved into Orthorexia, a newly coined term for people who restrict their food based on health reasons as opposed to wanting to be thin. In fact, I’m told it’s the new “in” eating disorder in the Hollywood set. Yay, me.

I saw a therapist (who was tainted for me by the fact that G. was court-ordered to pay for her services) who was pretty good at helping me work through my damage from the abusive relationship. But when it came to my disordered eating, she was worse than unhelpful. She wanted tips. Every week as I shrunk before her very eyes she would ask in awe how I did it. Somewhat overweight herself, she pressed until I actually gave her a how-to, which she then promised to implement. At last we both realized that she had problems with her self image & eating and that our relationship had moved far from therapeutic. So I stopped seeing her. But I still hurt.

The End
I wish I could say that there was some huge life-changing moment that made me leave my disordered behaviors behind. But let’s face it, you read my blog, you know I still straddle that line at times. Although these days I trend more towards orthorexia than anorexia [edited to add: actually these days it’s crazy amounts of exercise]. Which is why “Thin” was such a powerful documentary for me. I’m at a healthy weight. I’m healthier mentally than I’ve been in years. And yet I still see myself in so many of their mannerisms. The way Alisa obsessively tried on outfit after outfit, sometimes for hours a day, looking for one that didn’t make her look fat (not realizing that the fat was all in her head and not in her clothes). The way that Shelly (the girl pictured above in the Thin promo) talked about what her control over food meant to her and how it played out in her family. The way that Polly went to the ED clinic to heal and instead just found something else to rebel against.

I’m not saying that I have an eating disorder now. I am saying that the potential for one lives inside me. Which is why I suppose I am telling you all this. It’s my was of staying accountable.

Because Polly is dead.

{February 14, 2010}   the simpsons

Homer’s hunger strike episode.

watch from 12:15 minutes

[url=http://www.wtso.net/movie/345-1215_Hungry_Hungry_Homer.html]1215  Hungry, Hungry Homer[/url]

{February 13, 2010}   the simpsons












Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen! Cause nothing says Valentine’s Day like sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

the full episode of Love Springfeildian Style

(go to 14 minutes mark)

[url=http://www.wtso.net/movie/385-1912_Love_Springfieldian_Style.html]1912 Love, Springfieldian Style[/url]

the full episode of Smoke on the Daughter

(Lisa does ballet, smokes cigs to get thin)

[url=http://www.wtso.net/movie/417-1915_Smoke_on_the_Daughter.html]1915 Smoke on the Daughter[/url]

the full episode of Sleeping with the Enemy

(Lisa has an eating disorder)

[url=http://www.wtso.net/movie/211-The_Simpsons_1603_Sleeping_With_The_Enemy.html]The Simpsons 1603  Sleeping With The Enemy[/url]

et cetera