174 • pearls around the neck
liked, at least back then.
My body dried up. I was just a bag of bones and soon I suffered from amenorrhea. It lasted six years.
In both cases, I was happy, overflowing with activity, intellectually stimulated (during the latter,
writing my thesis for the university), sleeping little yet physically tireless, and without a doubt,
unfortunate to the core!
In both cases, something severe had taken over me, and my body had transformed into a theatre
featuring the play I had, until then, denied myself to attend. And the second act was put on stage in
After a few years, I was able to identify the painful traumas and difficult crises that made me swing into
the universe of anorexics. Two very precise incidents, similar and tragic, occurred on two occasions and
unleashed the same exact comedy, the same farce. The defense mechanism that set in at age 12, during
the first crisis, had shown its effectiveness and insidiously reappeared at age 20. All was going well,
Ladies and Gentlemen, suffering again, but all was going well!
Because anorexia underestimates. Anorexia lies to itself. It is comforted in the ecstasy of fasting,
consoles itself in the somberness of hunger. To admit its sadness is almost impossible.
Anorexia’s perversity resides in its power of projection and replacement of real life problems with
a world of false substitutions. Instead of treating the obstacles inherent in love and marriage, of
loneliness, fear of the future or abandonment, the anorexic will create a parody of the difficulty of
choosing in a world of food. An unwitting transposition, a surrogate commitment.
If life is overwhelming, let me focus on this 175-calorie vanilla pudding. I’ll thoroughly analyze the
menu, I’ll measure, count, weigh, study the increasing space between my thighs, scrutinize my image in
every mirror and live with that visual distortion between the pachyderm image that frightens me and
the haggard reality that I have become.
In any case, I have no power over my destiny. I could not win. Let me start this fight, with my body;
the war against feminine curves, chubby buttocks, muffin top, voluptuous breasts and the ability to
procreate. I can no longer bare children at the age of 20, I am destroyed and yet, it is I who has dried up
the fertile womb, the bloody and promising secretions, and the rosy and fertile ovaries.
And the body withers. It produces nothing but pity. It no longer uses space… it is barely visible in the
assembly. The body would rather not exist: its desires have ceased and its fluids have dried up.
Then, a real dance of disguised meals began. Six years of lies, of ill will and cunning ways to deceive
adversaries: hunger and the others, those that worried, that loved me and saw me so emaciated.
A chunk of an apple for breakfast, a yogurt eaten with a tiny spoon in order to make this miserable
banquet last, half a bran cookie as dry as a bone, juices of rare algae, three grapefruits a day to burn fat
and, if by some oversight I had a more hearty dinner, the shame, the feeling of abusing my body and
an unbearable physical weight. Losing one kilo on the scale was the reward, the lightness of the soul
associated with the loss of volume, a small gift, a gratification such as if a lesion would have suddenly
healed, as if a small blood stain had been erased, a crime solved.
Anorexia opens a door, it is a key. But, what door does it open? Hunger, rejection, deprivation
mysteriously compensate for something: anorexia solves an equation hidden in the deepest parts of
one’s being which parameters can only be lack of confidence, shame, sadness or fear of emptiness. Can