Daughters In Danger

I have two teenage daughters.  I was a teenage girl myself once.  So anorexia is not a foreign concept to me. Especially because the summer before I went to Harvard, I lost 40 pounds myself. I spent my freshman year gaining the weight back, which was hard enough (think 1,600 classmates watching you change a pants size every month). But the really steep climb to mental health was admitting I had almost killed myself. 

Although that was 30 years ago, I will never forget the grip anorexia had on me. So naturally I read with great interest a recent piece on Salon by the mother of a nine-year-old anorexic girl. 

Yes, nine years old and anorexic. 

The essay is one of the best windows into parenting an anorexic girl I've ever come across.  Anyone with a young girl under their roof should read it. Here’s a brief excerpt from the nine-year-old’s mother:

“Slowly, the pieces fell into place: odd comments over the summer that I had dismissed, thinking if I didn’t make a big deal out of them, they would pass like so many other random fears and concerns that my children had.


So, I came to this article, and the first thing I saw was an ad for a waist skinner. Really, how are we honestly supposed to advise our daughters when we are so Hung up on body image. I think they'll see right through us.


I've written about anorexia a great deal, too, and I absolutely agree with everything you've written here, Leslie. My daughter is also nine. I often leave my email address for people to email me with concerns or questions, and I hear from a lot of parents and boyfriends (I wrote a post about anorexic girlfriends on BlogHer and hear from 1-2 boyfriends a week months later). I was anorexic, bulimic and EDNOS even though that wasn't a diagnosis then for years. I wrote a novel about the psychology of anorexia and what helped me to recover. It's called THE OBVIOUS GAME. If parents find their way here wondering what the heck could make their daughters want to starve themselves, I hope it's not too much out of line to recommend they read my novel. Thanks for writing about this.