Monthly Archives: October 2010

For Once, I’m Siding With Marie Claire.

I never told all of you why I started this blog.

A couple of years ago, I noticed that a fellow graduate of LHS had started a blog entitled, “CarrotsNCake”, which was devoted to “healthy living”.  I wouldn’t have known about this, except for she had recently friended me on facebook (which was curious, as we had never been friends in high school.  but such is the book of faces.  I digress.)  She appeared to be advertising her blog on facebook, and it seemed to be taking off.  Food companies started to sponsor her blog.  She received a book deal.  Her and fellow bloggers started an annual “healthy living summit”.  And so on, and so forth.

However, as I read through her blog, something didn’t sit right with me.  To the naked eye, the blog seemed harmless.  She consumed as many brownies as she did brussel sprouts, and even dubbed Fridays “Cookie Friday”.  But, to my eating disordered and mental health counselor eye, something seemed awry.  Wasn’t it abnormal to visually document every meal you made and include calorie counts on some of them?  Wasn’t it unhealthy to attach moral value to food?  Wasn’t it strange how this seemed to be the content of her thought most days?

But most of all, I was bothered to all hell that a blog so obsessed with people’s outside appearance could gain such a following.  So, I started mine.  For a long time I felt as if it was for naught; more people seemed to be attracted to repetitive, appearance-obsessed writing, rather than thoughtful writing that supported an important mental health cause.  I felt I was alone in my opinion that something was “off” about this sudden culture of “Look!  I’m healthy and super adjusted!” blogs.

And then Marie Claire published this critique of her, and other “healthy living” blogs. http://www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/news/articles/health-blogger-controversy

Don’t get me wrong.  If you have an eating disorder, and you choose to enter the blog world, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for what you lay your eyes on.  My eating disorder led me back to her website time and time again, teasing me to compare my food intake to hers and to see if I measured up, if I was good enough or thin enough.  So, I had to take responsibility and stop feeding into my disorder.

Interestingly enough, something bothers me more than the food-documenting and the exercise-reporting.  It is the instant idolatry that hundreds of young women seem to develop around the women who write these “healthy living” blogs.  On my former classmate’s blog, scores of women echo the “amazingness” of the blog; some even comment on how it helped them to recover from their eating disorder.  This bothers me in particular.  Eating disorders are addictions, and addictions require face-to-face professional connection to heal appropriately.  While blogs could be used as a springboard to help sufferers find their way to counseling, they also encourage the “false connection” dynamic that is so popular in our culture today.  (Facebook??)  And, they encourage the insta-celebrity trend that seems to be growing since reality TV took root.

You see, people without eating disorders don’t care about my blog or her blog or any calorie-counting in particular: they just eat.  They stuff themselves some days and eat less on others.  They listen to their appetite instead of monitoring the pace on the treadmill.  Simply put, they lack the obsession. 

Another friend in high school left the following quote in her senior yearbook write-up: “What is right is not always popular; what is popular is not always right.”  I chuckle to myself as I write this, for this was true in high school and today.  But this ain’t high school anymore.  My motives are no longer personal; I write this because I believe more responsible material should be getting out there.