Let me be clear – I do not hate models who are suffering from eating disorders, have come out as ED sufferers or survivors, or who have turned to advocate for other sufferers. That is a good thing to do, it comes from a place of kindness and intelligence, and it is an admirable use of privilege in order to help others. Model moral behavior, you might even say. However, I do not like the way the models’ narrative seems to be the dominant or even only story that is recognized in our wider media as the neatly-packaged beginning-to-end textbook case of an eating disorder. I’m focusing on women here because women’s bodies are, overwhelmingly, the target of these narratives. I’m also focusing on those women who have made it to tell their stories – though we know many will not make it, and we do not forget them. I’m talking specifically about media portrayal of ED survivors.
When my kids were little, they nursed a lot. A LOT. They were both evening cluster feeders, which meant that my options for the evening were to sit on the couch and watch TV or read a book, or I could NAK. Nursing at the keyboard was often the best choice for me. Television was sometimes too loud and the Internet was just too compelling. But as someone who has mastered the art of typing, trying to type messages one-handed while nursing a baby quickly got old. Something had to be done about it.
So I worked out a system.
One day Wanda refused to assist me in the bathroom and gave no explanation why. I was in class (college) so it was not like I had my mom there and none of my friends knew how to transfer me (why would they?). So there I was at lunch, needing to pee but my aide refusing. So I had to ask one of my friends. My aide wouldn’t even help explain how to transfer me or do anything else. I had to eyespell how to do everything to my poor friend.
At i09, M. Night Shylaman answers questions about The Last Airbender Live Action Move (aka, that Racist Mess). And he shows not only that he’s the South Asian equivalent of an Uncle Tom; he shows that he doesn’t get the optimism and hope of Avatar – that it wasn’t that it started young and skewed older, but that it has a foundation of joy and hope and friendship that carries all through; just as it has a foundation of being non-white fantasy.
Remember the interview that’s now unfortunately on the official animated series DVD? About how he ‘got’ it all?
M. Night Shylaman lied.
Another disability history image thanks to the Flickr Commons project. This one is from the Library of Congress’s set from the George Grantham Bain Collection, news photos from 1910-1915. Here we see Judge Quentin D. Corley (as the title suggests), driving a very early model car with steering wheel adaptations for his prosthetic left hand; the right sleeve of his jacket appears to be empty. Corley looks to be a young man wearing a white summer hat.
Brandy, a large yellow Labrador worked faithfully by her partners side for 11 years. She was the first service dog for people with physical disabilities I ever met and I still remember meeting her and her human on while we were stuck on a plane having electrical difficulties on a tarmac in a plane going nowhere anytime soon. As the crew allowed other passenger to exit to plane if they wish for a bit, this gentleman and I bot made the decision to sit tight because it was too much of a hassle to get of the plane and risk not getting back in time.
In the recovery movement, which is the zeitgeist in the delivery of mental health services at this time, we are supposed to look past someone’s diagnosis. I am not “a bipolar” or “depressive” or “schizophrenic.” I have been diagnosed with such, but the relevance of that diagnosis is highly suspect. Because aren’t I just Liz? Liz who is addicted to Dunkin Donuts hazelnut coffee, Liz who likes chihuahuas in sweaters, Liz who tries to do gluteal exercises to increase her butt’s circumference — without success. So many things make up my Liz-ness, right? So who cares what some doctor said?
Generally speaking, I agree with this approach. For many years we have been labelling people in an attempt to treat them, and the results aren’t exactly stellar. So why not change protocols, DSM by damned?
This Situation Is Not Unique DISCUSSES SEXUAL ASSAULT
When I was in middle school, around the same age as this little girl is, and freshly diagnosed with Aspergers, I was also a victim of sexual harassment/assault, repeatedly, by my classmates. Innapropriate touching, lewd comments about my body, and bragging about taking advantage of me because I was too “retarded” to understand what was going on. This continued for three years uninterrupted, and only slightly lessened when I entered high school. Nobody did anything, not teachers, nor my parents, nor the administrative staff at the private school I attended. Whether it was due to them being oblivious to the bullying, whether they thought that because I was bigger than the other students that I should “take care of myself”, or because the students who tormented me were wealthy and came from good families and I didn’t, I’ll never know. I suffered in silence. In fact, until today, I’ve never talked candidly about the fact that I was sexually assaulted. I simply labelled it “bullying”.