The Starved Body: Anorexia and the Fracture within the Self

The man seems light and liquid, the woman heavy and tied down. Likewise, the anorexic strives for the light and airy. Rather than sinking into the earth, the anorexic who dies is said to have “escaped gravity.” She escapes the gravity not only of her body but also of need. Maura Kelly’s self-apotheosis demonstrates the anorexic counter-strategy to dependency: “I kept chiseling away at myself, trying to purify myself more, and to need less.”

Ultimately, both sexual revolution and eating disorders rebel against the given, against what is inescapable. Sex creates babies. Bodies require food. But who says? The rules don’t apply to me. Modernity valorizes the independent, self-sufficient man, as he strides rationally and freely into the well-managed future of his own creation. But the cheerleaders of secularism do not seem to have reckoned with the innately destructive quality of the self that has been unleashed from any transcendent orientation.