The Hunger Artist

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Sobell: D+ | Grade It Now!
Out of the mouths of babes
Gil then cites a bug example, prompting Warrick to say, "We're really not talking about being beautiful at all." Gil defends himself: "In terms of entomology, being beautiful is about being even. It signals the fitness to procreate." Nicky tries again on Warrick's behalf: "So we're not really talking about looks, we're talking about survival of the species." Sara settles the debate with, "The bottom line is the same: control and perfectionism. That's what her code was all about. Let's take HBWC/3 1590 BC 90 BF 3930 S 114 TC. Three hamburgers with cheese, calories 530, five-thirty times three is where she gets 1590 BC. That's BC for bad calories, and at 30 grams a pop, that's 90 grams of BF." "Bad fat," Nicky says, picking up on the general theme. Sara continues, "The rest of her formula involves sodium, total carbohydrates, and the actual weight of everything she ate." Catherine looks pained. Gil says, "So she was operating like a scientist, seeking the perfect formula to take her pain away." Sara replies, in a subdued voice, "Or disappear all together. Which brings me to the minus side of the equation. She would write down the number of times she TU'd -- threw up, in this case, twice -- or EVO'd." Nicky asks about EVO'd. Sara replies, "Moving her bowels. The directions on her disposable enema box use the term 'evacuate,' so after her burger binge, she 3 EVO'd 14 G, 2 TU'd 9 G and 3 #1. She evo'd three times, but her calculations didn't stop there. G stands for grams." We flash back to a shot of Ashleigh weighing her feces (they're in a sandwich baggie). Warrick says, "Wait a minute -- you're telling me she weighed her bowel?" "Yeah. We bagged it," says Catherine, disgusted by God knows what.

There are so many places to start. I could happily dive into a rant about the institutional nature of eating disorders, the apparent commercial success of a body type that may compel some to adopt eating disorders, et cetera, but this recap is already running long and you can read other people's much better pieces elsewhere. The only thing I'll comment on: the phrase "bad calories" is a reflection of the completely dysfunctional relationship Americans have with food. People's eating habits are judged in terms of "good" and "bad," people "cheat" on their diets, and if they're trying to get their nutritional information from the popular media, chances are high they're getting it in a way that sends the message to regard food as a necessary evil laden with substances standing between the consumer and pulchritudinous happiness. Even in women's magazines featuring "Artery-Exploding Triple Fudge Cookie Bar Surprise," you're going to find an article on walking off your fat -- sending the message that if you enjoy your food, you better get rid of any and all evidence, you bad girl. There's no denying that some foods are less nutritionally beneficial than others, but casting items and eating behavior in terms of morality -- "good" and "bad" as opposed to the more physically accurate "healthy" and "unhealthy," or "delicious" and "unsavory" -- only reinforces the screwed-up idea that food is something to be feared. Again with the profanity: fuck that. And pass me the Scharffen Berger.

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