Monday, December 03, 2007

"Super Skinny Me"

Last night I watched Super Skinny Me, a documentary on BBC. It was...strange. A strange experience to watch. Basically, two women journalists agreed to "crash diet" for five weeks in an attempt to drop from a British size 12 to a size 2; size 2 is equivalent to a US 00. The two women were tested both physically and mentally to make sure they were healthy enough for the experiment. The purpose of the experiment was to track the health of the women as they attempted to become "super skinny" by using a number of popular diets.

One woman in her late 20s was married and did manage to lose enough weight to stuff herself into the 00 jeans she tried on. She spoke with a 15 year old anorexic girl and also did extensive research on "pro anorexia" websites. When she spoke about the websites on camera, she began to cry. She was extremely emotional throughout the whole experience--and was very honest and open about it. By the end, her BMI was too low to be healthy and she ultimately lost, I think, around 14 lbs.

The other journalist, Kate Spicer, was disturbing. She's 37 (or was at the time, probably 38 now) and single. She began on a diet of 250 calories a day and lost 7 lbs the first week. The next week she went to a detox facility and it was here that she began to "spiral." She was upset with only losing a small amount of weight, and became very emotional and agitated. She confided in the doctor that was checking up on them that she was experimenting with laxatives after a "binge" where she ate almost everything in her kitchen. She gained three pounds after that binge. After three weeks the doctor sent her to an eating disorder specialist. She was ordered off the experiment after the fourth week. During a follow up, after both women had begun to gain weight, she admitted to binging and purging two times.

Kate made me cry. I don't talk about everything on I Am Who I Am, and one of the things I don't talk about is my eating habits. Those who are closest to me know about some of the struggles I've had, and to say that this second journalist's story hit home for me is putting it mildly. The eating disorder specialist said that if she was allowed to go unchecked for a few more weeks she would develop a full blown eating disorder. She was well on her way after only four weeks, and it was shocking to see how fast a perfectly healthy, normal woman suddenly became so unhealthy and disordered.

I found myself wondering if part of the reason that the first woman didn't spiral so far out of control and the second woman did, was because the first woman was married. She ate her meals with her husband and had someone who was with her during the evenings and at night. He was only interviewed for a brief time, but his disgust with the experiment and with his wife's "new body" was pretty evident. I wondered if Kate would have done better if she had been with someone who kept her in check. She went out with friends after week two and they all told her how fabulous she looked, but in her flat she was able to do whatever she wanted without anyone giving her a second glance about it.

I've been thinking about the show, and Kate Spicer, all day...I can't get it--or her--out of my head.

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