Now that you have that preface, onto the actual blog post. A few of you were interested in hearing about Bordo's presentation I attended last week: "Beyond eating disorders: why we must rethink everything we thought we knew." The presentation itself was good but it only touched the broad surface, but I guess that's all that can be done in an hour's time. Much of the presentation focused on consumerism--the ideology to get us to "see it, love it/want it, buy it/here's how to get it." From there, Bordo used a step by step approach to show the progression of how this type of thinking/advertisements have lead to the problems we are currently seeing in impulse disorders which includes eating disorders.
A few interesting key words in her presentation were the "pedagogy of the binge" and "deregulation." She uses "pedagogy of the binge, " because consumer society has trained individuals to be without limits. Looking at a variety of current advertisements, frequent words like "voraciousness," "indulgence," and "craving" have appeared more often. This type of idea is not strictly related to food ads but also ads about perfect bodies, overexercising, shopping, etc. In essence, this continues the cycle, leading to an increase in what is deemed as impulse disorders, like binge eating, kleptomania, shopaholism, etc.
In relating this all to eating disorders, the term "deregulation" comes up. Often times, deregulation is seen more in terms of the government reducing, restricting, or simplifying in order to raise productivity. With anorexia, what is looked at as deregulation, i.e. food and other pleasurable activities, Bordo sees it as a "failure of self-regulation." Consumption is not seen as just guilt-ridden but rather dangerous. She didn't go into much detail here, but I think she talks about it more in depth in her book, Unbearable Weight.
There were several other interesting points she made. For example, much of society is about "craving," and how with anorexia, it is about being in a state of "beyond craving." This isn't exclusive to food either but many other areas of life. I thought that was a different way of looking at it or at least a choice of words.
I should also mention that Bordo is skeptical of the medical model pertaining to eating disorders but does feel that eating disorders are multi-dimensional. She doesn't discount the medical model, but she feels it leaves out important other criteria. Her thoughts are that some individuals are vulnerable to eating disorders (or whatever disorder), but culture brings out those vulnerabilities. In essence, culture is like a "smoking gun." She makes a much better argument than I can here in her book. There is one line that I think really stands out to me in her book about this issue. It's that as she sees we are not all exposed to the same cultural environment, but rather "what we are all exposed to, rather are homogenizing and normalizing images and ideologies concerning 'femininity' and female beauty."
After the presentation, I decided to go say hi to Dr. Bordo. What I did not mention in my last post was that I in fact know Dr. Bordo. I took an english/women's studies class she taught on "Lolita" as an undergrad, so I do have a relationship with her, though this was about seven years ago. This was another reason why I felt nervous about going.
I waited my turn, and then said "Hi, it's Tiptoe." She kind of looked at me puzzled, but then P. (this is the former professor/client who boards her dog at the kennel) who was there, yelled out, "It's Tiptoe," like shouting it out would jostle her memory better. I guess it worked, because then she remembered me. However, she also said, "Omg, I didn't recognize you. You look so much thinner." Argh! Those of you who have read this blog know how I feel about this sort of comment --drives me insanely mad and paranoid. But I will let go of this statement and move on.
I gave her a brief thing about how I was blogging these days and keeping current with eating disorder/body image stuff. I should also note that I had shared a body awareness piece with her that I wrote in college which recounted how the ED evolved, so she was one of the few who ever knew. Why, I shared it with her, I'm not sure but there seemed to be some comfort, or maybe just because I knew she was familiar and wrote about these types of topics.
Anyway, Dr. Bordo ended our conversation with "We should get together and catch up." I'm super stoked that she offered this even with her very busy schedule. I can just think now all the questions I have for her.
In the end, I left feeling like I rekindled an old connection, one that I hope to keep in touch with better.
*Note--for the record, I didn't sit in the back--in the middle