For 22 year-old model and actress, Spring, Orthorexia, or a severely limited diet, is her way of staying slim for the cameras. She reports how expensive it is for her to eat the way she does, and how hard maintaining her diet is around her husband, daughter, and extended family. Her narrative represents a chaos narrative (1). For her, no end goal exists where she will stop eating only raw food. She suffers socially because she cannot go to parties since she doesn’t like her diet being questioned by friends and family. Andrew’s narrative represents a quest. He eats a vegan diet to prevent cancer later in his life. “This hopefully will have a healthy-life payoff, but that’s something we’ll see down the line” (2). Both of them use their narrative as a way to explain how they feel to their families. At multiple times during the episode they say things like, “I just wish they knew how I feel.” The narrative potentially offers a way to show them.
On one hand, popular food culture encourages the consumption of highly processed, unhealthy foods. On the otherhand, popular social media has a large focus on appearance that may encourage unhealthy eating patterns. Although this isn’t directly mentioned in the episode, it might play into their psyches subconsciously. Although the cultural stigma towards eating disorders is negative, culture stresses the importance of giving the person affected psychiatric attention. Therapists that specialize in eating disorders can help people suffering from orthorexia.
In order to assume the role of orthorexia, the affected must maintain to a very strict diet, in private and in public. This is recounted as emotionally demanding by the affected kids in the video. Narratives are useful to the people that are trying to help the person that is suffering from illness because they can offer a poignant perspective. This may help them understand the illness in a way that they can help the ill.
(1) Department of Anthropology. “Medical Anthropology Illness Narraives.” Michigan State University. PowerPoint. Viewed July 20, 2014.
(2) True Life. “I Have Orthorexia.” MTV. Posted April 19, 2012. Viewed July 23, 2014. <http://www.mtv.com/shows/truelife/true-life-i-have-orthorexia/1683486/playlist/#id=1683486>.