Tuesday, November 30, 2004

"Behavior that could be considered normal"

The Health section of the NYT has branched off from Jane Brody and her finger-wagging and has a piece on a diagnosis called "eating disorder not otherwise specified." This disorder--which encompasses any unusual eating habits, from binging to purging to just one or just the other, as well as not-quite-anorexia levels of eating very little, as well as extreme pickiness--sounds horribly unpleasant, but is a diagnosis that could probably be accurately given to about 90% of women and girls on the Upper East Side.

"Experts working on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual panels must ask how close the condition is to behavior that could be considered normal. For binge eating disorder, for instance, they must ask: When is such behavior a true psychiatric condition, and when is it the kind of thing that almost everyone engages in every Thanksgiving?"

But what of the semi-starvation that so many NYC women, Times readers surely among them, undergo year in and year out, simply to distiguish themselves from, I don't know, tourists? Those they consider lower class? Their husband's previous wives? Who can say. But the enviroment in certain parts of the city encourages not just being slender but being as close to emaciated as one can get and still produce offspring to dress in Baby Ralph Lauren and send to the hot nursery school of the moment. In other words, on the Upper East Side, the bizarre eating habits that hover on the edge of true eating disorders, that sometimes place a well-pedicured toe over that line, are most definitely examples of "behavior that could be considered normal."

So what is to be done? Should psychiatrists come to the neighborhood in droves, making diagnoses left and right? Well, that already happens, no doubt. But until the women of the neighborhood cease to look upon as overweight any woman who exceeds a size 0, there's really not much to look for in the way of progress.


Anonymous said...

You've covered all the bases here.
If a kind a peer pressure motivates UES women to over-control their eating, why doesn't this produce the same sort of companionably self-identified group as, say, that of scarified tribesmen? Instead, on the UES there is only edginess and competitive angst, the constant monitoring of who's thinner. Maybe a blog-loitering anthropologist can help me out here. If the UES ladies have in a sense been initiated into a distinctive sub-group of society, why don't they all just get along?

cialis online said...

This is not only a anormal behavior but also that's so disgusting, actually my sister had that behavior and she was near to die.