The film was heartbreaking to watch and it was terrifying to witness just how powerful the mind can be despite the constant fight with the body and the continued support from surrounding peers, family and medical professionals. One of the most poignant moments was when a 15 year old girl who has suffered from an eating disorder since early childhood, grabbed onto her skeletal frame and screamed 'I have a double chin. I'm fat. I want it off me!' and despite desperate efforts from her fellow patients declared that she wanted to die in order to reach her ideal weight.
|Black outline - perception, red outline - reality|
Another shocking moment was when a patient named Alisa was asked to draw her silhouette on the wall and portrayed a figure around double her size. Despite the nurse drawing round her actual body on top of Alisa's impression of herself, which indicated just how small she really was, Alisa remarked 'I can see problem areas' and began to annotate areas of her body that she felt needed to be changed.
One thing that was evident is that the majority of these disorders had grown from another problem, be it an addiction to drugs, depression or obsessive compulsive disorder. Although the illness centres around food and appearance, the true root of these eating disorders often come down to the need to control something in their lives.
"I USED TO HAVE A PERSONALITY" - through eating disorders, the patients lost themselves. Should my clothes show this loss or be an attempt to regain a sense of individulaity and life? Some of their methods - water between each mouthful to fill up, smoking, tiny bites, shifting food around on the plate, purging - vomiting, 'restriction', even using a stomach tube intended for feeding in reverse in order to remove food from the stomach
The nature of this film was shocking but necessary - nothing was sugar coated. It was real life. The reinforcement that this is not a Hollywood movie comes at the end when you discover that the four girls the documentary focuses on, all relapse soon after exiting the centre. One even dies.
So how will this documentary feed into my project? What did I gain?
I think it was important for me to understand the mentality behind these disorders. To understand the emotions and feelings that accompany one and the underlying factors behind this self inflicted torture. The constant guilt, the shame, the fear, the need for control. The routines and the inability to see anything rationally. I think that the symptoms of an eating disorder patient and the methods for both staying thin and for recovery could also be interesting to explore within a creative setting.