How to Disappear Completely: on modern anorexia by Kelsey Osgood
|How to Disappear Completely: on modern anorexia by Kelsey Osgood|
|Reviewer: Stacey Barkley|
|Summary: A thought-provoking and honest bid to disrobe anorexia of all traces of mystery and glamour.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 266||Date: February 2014|
|Publisher: Duckworth Overlook|
|External links: Author's website|
To the awkward 14 year-old Kelsey, a happy family and a comfortable suburban life are dull and numbing. A self-professed bookworm and fan of the literary greats, she craves meaning and purpose in an utterly normal teenage existence.
Drawn to the likes of the troubled Sylvia Plath, the celebrated poet who carved out a lasting story of herself, Kelsey experiences an existential pull to be different, to find meaning, and to create a lasting story of her own. Focusing in on the typical worries of her female peers, Kelsey decides to embrace these and be the very best she can be, that is the very best at being thin. In her words, this appeared to be the most 'logical progression of self control'.
Alas anorexia is anything but controllable. From here we witness the descent into addiction and all out starvation. Osgood is candid in revealing her psychological battle of feeling like a fraud for having anorexia by design. She reveals the vicious cycle of how this fuelled a bid to be legitimated as anorexic; to be the best, and so the sickest one could be. Even at the point of tempting death she writes of the urge to be better still.
Ultimately Osgood's aim is an honest portrayal of anorexia. She looks critically at the prevailing literature on the topic, noting that the bulk of it does more harm than good. Memoirs published to document one's alleged recovery, and penned with poetic flair serve only to imbue the anorexic with an aura and to romanticize the condition. Worse still diet plans and tricks of the trade can be lifted straight off of these pages. They offer self-help how-to guides for the 'wannabe anorexic'. Photographic offerings are another problem altogether. Capturing those who physically appear to be the most extreme cases, these efforts perpetuate a toxic idea that perhaps it isn't so bad; it could, on account of these photos, be a whole lot worse. True? False. Osgood seeks to pull the carpet from beneath these accounts and to show up anorexia for the destructive addiction that it really is.
As such this is by no means a one-woman story. From Ashley, a middle school friend, to Kristin who fuelled mass irritation for the inpatients at Silver Hill, Osgood provides a vivid (and often humorous) portrayal of life inside clinical institutions. By uncovering the disconcerting 'pro-ana' movement, to throwing light upon the competition and interactions inside the clinics, Osgood provides a fascinating but ultimately stark look at what it really is to suffer from anorexia.
In a stand-out moment of poignancy, Osgood recalls one particular group therapy session. She holds up a rare photo of her younger self and recalls, at the click of the camera, the feeling of discomfort and the certainty with which she knew she was fat. And yet, looking at the photo she sees at last that she was anything but. In this moment Osgood holds anorexia up for all that it really is; a destructive addiction that haunts the individual, distorts reality and propels to ever-lower depths of illness and despair.
Osgood has something different to offer here. Informative and candid, one can only hope that others pay attention and follow suit.
If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Eating Myself by Candida Crewe.
You can read more book reviews or buy How to Disappear Completely: on modern anorexia by Kelsey Osgood at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy How to Disappear Completely: on modern anorexia by Kelsey Osgood at Amazon.com.
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