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anorexia art

May 29, 2011
My 18-year-old daughter K is a brave survivor of Anorexia Nervosa. But it was a close thing – three times we almost lost her. The evil dragon almost took my girl – but we beat him back one spoonful at at time. Well established in her recovery, K is now at the university of her dreams studying the course of her dreams โ€“ unthinkable just two years ago. I’m so, so proud of her.
I’m studying at uni, too. This study period I took a unit in digital art. For the final assessment, we were required to produce four related photomontages around the theme of fractured identity. I chose to base mine on my daughter’s anorexia journey โ€“ an agonising fight to integrate and restore ownership of her psyche and save her life.
The best evidence to hand suggests that Anorexia is a psychiatric illness with a genetic base and organic symptoms, so I am in no means wanting to lay the blame for my daughter’s condition at the feet of Christianity. But it cannot be ignored that children from Christian homes are significantly over-represented in child and adolescent psychiatric institutions. Many of those young people are victims of Anorexia or other eating disorders.
Because of this, I imagine there might be numerous visitors here whose lives have been touched by this insidious and deadly disease. So, I thought I’d post my art here in the hope it may be an encouragement to someone.

'Anorexia #1: The Arrival'. Jane Douglas, 2011. Digital photomontage.

Anorexia #2: Alone Inside. Jane Douglas, 2011. Digital photomontage
Anorexia #3: The Thread. Jane Douglas, 2011. Digital photomontage.

Anorexia #4: The Way Out. Jane Douglas, 2011. Digital photomontage.

Anorexia #5: The Dollhouse. Jane Douglas, 2011. Digital photomontage.

NOTE: For parents who suspect their child may be at risk, some of the best advice on the internet about Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and other eating disorders is available at F.E.A.S.T. and Maudsley Parents. I doubt my daughter would have made it had I not been able to access their excellent information and support.
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9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2011 4:53 pm

    This is wonderful. The images are amazing and thought provoking. Well done with the work, and your girl.

  2. May 29, 2011 5:03 pm

    Great work, Jane

  3. June 1, 2011 7:14 am

    So glad that you are blogging again! ๐Ÿ™‚

    We should definitely catch up next time I am in town!

    • June 1, 2011 1:30 pm

      Hey, Jo!

      Yep, I’m back – tried shutting up but failed. You know how it is ๐Ÿ™‚ Do let me know when you are coming down again. I could do with an excuse to visit the Pig & Whistle.

  4. June 2, 2011 11:37 am

    haha, humm, funny you should say that people on this site might have struggled with this disorder. As soon as I saw the post I was going to tell you about FEAST/Around the dinner table. I found your blog through NLQ, and came over here and this is of course the first thing I should see,

    I’ve struggles with AN-P for at least 10 years and have finally come to terms with the idea that my AN was not caused by my incredibly f*cked up childhood OR the sexual assault I experienced as a teen. It was strangely a huge relief to realize that those things DIDN’T cause it. In separating those things (My AN from the trauma) I have been able to make greater strides in BOTH areas- they are not intermingled in all kinds of funky ways anymore and strides in one area to not have to be made in the other area and each can heal at its own rate. Honestly, it freed me of feeling like I had to come to terms or peace with my childhood before I could experience any healing for my ED. So, once my BRAIN was refed, I found I was able to figure out what to do in order to have healing in those old trauma areas too. Things like, well, stop perpetuating the abuse on myself my having destructive friendships for one thing and allowing people who have previously done almost nothing but abuse me to continue to have that place of authority in my life.

    I do have to say though that I felt like my recovery would not have been possible without my faith. I know it is not that way for everyone- and I dont mean to offend. I did however have to through out some rather toxic ideas that I was taught growing up that related to my relationship with God and my Body Image/ Self Concept. (ie the idea that i was a literal whore if i didnt wear a heavy garb over my swimming suit or if the hem on my shorts was above my knee– or if I didn’t wear shorts under my dresses (I know my conservative Christian parents were total liberals allowing me to wear shorts at all!) Umm, well and the idea that my ED was the sin of Conceit- well, that did a lot of damage for a loooong time. I spent the first 5 or so years repenting of my sin and fearing reveling my struggle because I knew it would be looked down up as one of the worst sins a girl could commit and I really couldn’t live with that shame.

    Anyways, good job on your art. I especially like/relate to the first one!

  5. June 2, 2011 9:04 pm

    Here’s something funny: My tutor commented that one of my works’ strengths was the religious motifs. I wondered what he was talking about as I didn’t think there were any in there at all. So I looked again.

    In the red image, the dragon looks like a representation of Satan; in the blue there are anorexic angels on the wall, a cross on a chain on the floor and the dying girl has angel’s wings; in the purple, the head of the figure is taken from ‘Bathsheba at her Bath’ by Rembrandt. Only the fourth image – the one that represents freedom – lacks any obvious religious motif. Funny. I wonder how they all snuck in there without my noticing? :/

    Just goes to show that, for me, the creative process really does bypass my analytical intellectual processes and let me just put my heart on the page.

  6. Jenny permalink
    June 3, 2011 7:42 am

    Just read all your posts. Very interesting.
    Silly of me, but I don’t expect fundies in Australia. We think you all spend time barbying.
    I grew up in the South here around fundamentalists (as opposed to your fundies). Different people entirely, at least they were 30 years ago. Religion is getting weird these days.
    Jenny

  7. July 4, 2011 11:48 pm

    I wanted to let you know these are lovely work! It made me cry; I had my own struggles with eating disorders. I was a binger/starver from a Southern Baptist background.

    But I got better ๐Ÿ™‚

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