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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Bulimia Suicide: Is Fashion To Blame?

A 14 year old doctor’s daughter has hanged herself. She has been suffering from bulimia resulting apparently from fat teasing at school. The coroner blames the fashion industry. He suggests that 30 years ago young women were not exposed to as many thin images as they will find now everywhere they look – not just in magazines. He is right.

The death of a young woman on the threshold of her adult life is horrible. Equally horrible is living with the stress of bulimia. Equally awful is the pain of having so many emotions that are so unbearable and overwhelming that the only way out is to self destruct in this final way.

We don’t know the full story; her parents had taken her laptop away and this is information which we don’t yet understand.

We do live in a different world right now which crept up on us silently like cats paws. So many things - not just fashion magazines - make it hard to float above the waves. 40 years ago I could walk for 5 minutes down the High Street without seeing one fast food joint, not one single restaurant and not even a coffee shop. People only ate at home.

I could go shopping without having to choose between 30 different types of crisps or 40 varieties of yoghurt and we bought our chocolate in bars so small that they were gone in just two bites.

I didn’t have to worry about being left behind in case I missed an episode of East Enders, or stay awake at night in case my friends were talking about me on Facebook. There was very little fat teasing since very few people then were fat.

I didn’t have to worry in case I couldn’t get into skinny jeans and cropped tops because they simply weren’t cool back then. We didn’t have to be exposed or die.

We were able to have fun in our own way without being in the glare of social media for people to comment on and pass judgment on. We were able to have fun without the need for drugs or drink.

Life went by more slowly, so even unhappy people had time to digest their emotions and try to make sense of them without the help of this army of counsellors and psychotherapies and peddlars of happiness that we have today.

So the coroner wasn’t quite right to pour blame on the fashion industry. There have been too many changes making it hard for anyone to survive their teens intact.

But why didn’t this young girl get proper help from an eating disorder specialist? Perhaps I could have saved her life. This haunts me. If you know a 14 year old with bulimia call me NOW! 0845 838 2040.

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