Thursday, January 03, 2008

"Super Skinny Me" (part 2)

BBC re-aired their documentary Super Skinny Me, and though I've already shared my thoughts, given the fact that 3/4 of the hits on I Am What I Am today were googling something relating to the doc, I thought I'd say a bit more.

First, a correction. I thought that Louise Burke was married but she is not. She lives with her boyfriend. I still contend that part of the reason that the "madness" didn't affect her quite as much as it did Kate Spicer was because she had someone living with her who was able to see how she behaved basically around the clock.

There have been a number of articles, for example Mary McNamera of the LA Times, that suggest that BBC filtered the experiences both journalists were going through to the point that it weakened the documentary. They compare it to how the US showed overeating with Morgan Spurlock in "Super Size Me." I would argue that though neither Louise nor Kate ended up stopping their periods or passing out from hunger, the "shock value" of the documentary was still there. We all know what starving people look like--we see them on the covers of magazines every day. What we don't necessarily know is how we, ordinary women, can spiral out of control into an eating disorder in the quest to lose a few pounds or to fit into a certain size. Watching Super Skinny Me shows the mental strugle healthy women can face when they KNOW what they're doing isn't right--yet they can't stop. Do I need to see Kate Spicer with her fingers down her throat to be horrified at her admission that she purged twice? Absolutely not.

In fiction, a lot of times "less is more," and I'll contend here that less was definitely more when it came to the experiences of Kate and Louise. It was not a "how to" on anorexia or bulimia. Rather, it was a demonstration of how simple it is to go just a little crazy. And in that regard, both women were amazing and both they and BBC should be commended for handling the issue the way they did.

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