Hunger strikes are rather rare in our culture, or rather hunger strikes named as such are. Anorexia Nervosa is far from rare. I became fascinated while doing research last semester about one branch of thought that posits that Anorexia is largely a protest through the body, culturally and politically and hence a hunger strike. I can’t say I entirely disagree. Without getting too far bogged down by jargon and footnotes the argument goes like this: because what is asked by the culture of the individual is so specific, borderline cartoonish due to its unrealistic demands the Anorexic makes a mockery of the expectation by giving what is asked, to which they respond by treating her as sick, ironically, never reflecting on their societal norms.
In short, it caused me to question who is really “sick” and it isn’t only those who cease to graze, but those who fix their gaze upon the impossible with no thought to the consequences. Beauty being everywhere, they look to a rarified myth to the exclusion and even the destruction of so much. I thought it not only possible but probable and poignant that many women like myself were pointing to that problem by our hunger strikes. I only hope that we can articulate this better soon in a way that will do us no harm – and to a society that is receptive to what we have to say.