Yet before anorexia was properly understood, “just make them eat” was a catch-all analysis. Anorexics were judged to be neurotics and attention-seekers, a bunch of spoiled, over-indulged, exclusively teenage girls. Now obese people are treated just as roughly and unkindly, the only difference being that the clueless, unhelpful, potentially deadly advice has gone from “eat more” to “eat less”.
Is this where the crude line of obesity as the new anorexia might make sense – in terms of the length of time it might take for sufferers to be taken seriously? If certain types of obesity were publicly accepted as the consequence of food disorders, the issue of personal responsibility would become void. An obese person’s lack of control around food would be deemed equivalent to an anorexic’s need for control around food. Obese people would not inspire mirth, contempt or shaming, any more than a dangerously emaciated anorexic person would.