How Much Are Mothers To Blame for Anorexia?
Last week, it was announced that Marie Caro, the mother of "anorexia model" Isabelle, had committed suicide. Her husband reportedly said that she was consumed by guilt over her daughter's death and the publicity surrounding it. Apparently, the model who campaigned against anorexia had on at least one occasion said that her anorexia was linked to her mother not wanting her to grow up.
I read an opinion piece at the weekend which said basically that mothers always get blamed for everything and that anorexia is a disease. "If a mother would not blame herself for her child's cancer, then why would she take the blame for her anorexia? Because society dictates that she should?" the journalist argued.
While I agree that anorexia is a disease, I think it is slightly more complicated than that, having been through the whole thing myself. It would be lovely to attribute all mental illnesses to some physical cause and to find a pill which could cure them, but that would be to deny the complete and utter mesh of influences and potential triggers for them.
Nothing about mental illness is straightforward, which is why it is so difficult to overcome. For me, anorexia has its roots in a huge range of different things - they could be in part genetic, they could be in part cultural and they could, indeed, be in part a reaction to parental influence [who are themselves influenced by both nature and nurture]. How can you disentangle them and apportion simple dollops of blame? Is it a mother's fault that her children grow up with her being on endless diets and appearing to hate her body? Where does she learn that? Is it the media's fault that they depict stick thin models or laugh at "celebrities" who have put on a few pounds? Is it society's fault in general that girls want to disappear in a world that puts conflicting and unrealistic pressures on women that make them feel that they are worthless if they cannot be all things to all people?Continued on the next page