Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Wanting more this Christmas

Since the release of My Secret Life: A Memoir of Bulimia, I have been graced with words from various people around the world. It shocks me still to know that there are so many others currently enduring that which I have detailed in my aforementioned title. My perceptions on my past are ever-changing as time goes on and as I grow. Some days, I find myself frustrated and angry with the issues that plagued my young life. Other days, I feel ready to reconcile both with the past and the person that has been formed as a result of it. But neither is a permanent fixture and I can only push as hard as possible for the latter.

While writing this book, I had hoped to touch into more than just what an eating disorder is; I sought to understand myself and analyze the facets that have proved so monumental in my life: bullying, self-worth, my relationship with God, humiliation, body-image, romantic relationships and the idiosyncrasies of my childhood.

Along with these things, I hoped to touch on the presence of the western media. While I have found liberation on a personal level with so many things in my life, this remains something I simply cannot escape. None of us can apparently. It’s on our television screens 24/7 and proving a worrying powerful force in our everyday lives. It’s shoved down our throats in music videos, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, fashion and all the everyday TV shows telling us how to ‘dress to impress’, ‘beat the bulge’ and ‘make an impression with show-stopping make-up’.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for looking my best and what’s more, being the best me I can possibly be. But is this really what the media are asking of us? It seems not lately. The size zero culture has not only gripped our contemporary society but is steering it down a detrimental path. I worry for future youths as exposure to such ‘ideals’ becomes more and more ostentatious. All it can surely succeed in creating is a generation of anorexics, bulimics and people doubting who they are against the might of the beauty machine of western culture.

In the face of prescribed perfection – and by perfection, I mean that 10% of individuals who strut catwalks and are thus determined to be the epitome of what we should look like and how we should behave – I wonder if we are risking the magnificence of the individual for a now unattainable status-quo? With so much importance being placed on aesthetics, we could well be losing sight of the best parts of the human condition: passions, creativity, a need to explore and learn and teach, kindness, ambition, empathy and understanding.

Okay, I’m sure I sound like I’m preaching now. But as we approach the holiday season and we’ll soon all be contending with our belts getting that bit tighter, perhaps it couldn’t do any harm just to bear these things in mind. I may be a recovering bulimic, but I am still a 21-year-old woman. And like all women my age, I feel the pressure of keeping up appearances and not over-indulging during the holidays. And like all women my age, I probably will do so anyway, promising myself that the New Year will bring some form of reformation and redemption.

Pre-New Year’s resolution? Relax, Leanne. You’d rather be indulgent and jolly than dieting and miserable. I have been blessed this season. I’ve had the opportunity to document my struggles in a memoir, thus emancipating myself from the pain they carry (Apparently it took bulimia and going to hell and back just to get me to enjoy my Christmas turkey and be comfortable with all my own wobbly bits and curves). What’s more, I’m spending this Christmas doing what I love: writing. The novel takes its turns – sometimes slow and sometimes practically writing itself. Nevertheless, as the snow starts hitting, I am grateful to be working from home, enjoying the company of the people who make me most happy and more than anything else, I’m grateful to be at liberty to truly enjoy the indulgent nature of this time of year and quite simply…. switch my blasted television OFF. Sorry size zero, you’re not on the Christmas card list. I want more than you this Christmas and more for myself forever.


My Secret Life: A Memoir of Bulimia is available now in the Kindle store.

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