Gretchen Died in May

I didn't know Gretchen, but I know that Jenn knew her.  She was, like Jenn, a member of an online support group for those with eating disorders.  I felt the devastating effects of her death as I read the Facebook posts from other members of that same group.  And though I didn't know her, I cried.

On several occasions, when I meet someone new and tell them about my daughter’s eating disorder or mention Moonshadow’s Spirit, the person will say, “I wish I had that problem.  I’d like to lose 20 (or 40 or whatever) pounds.”  But Gretchen died in May.  Do people really think an eating disorder is just an extreme diet?

A young woman once told me that her doctor came into the room and said, “It looks like I need to lose weight and you need to gain weight.”  The sarcastic side of me wonders if he would say something similar to a patient with erectile dysfunction.  Of course not.   And, as far as I know, no one has ever died of erectile dysfunction.  But Gretchen died in May and Monica died last week.  This doctor’s patient could die and yet he makes jokes.

This year we held our usual round of meetings with local representatives to discuss a budget item related to eating disorders.  At one such meeting, a staff member said, “I guess you can tell by my stomach, that I have a different eating problem.”  I’m a breast cancer survivor, and I wonder if this person would have used humor to discuss cancer funding.  But Gretchen died in May and Monica died last week and Katlyn died last year.  And this guy wants to tell us about his issue with eating too many hot dogs.

CafePress has a line of clothes with words that mock anorexia and bulimia.  Hudson Bay Company had to remove a tee shirt from their stores that carried a nutrition symbol showing zero calories and quoting Kate Moss’s line, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”  Both companies went into defensive mode when Mothers Against Eating Disorders (and others) complained.  I had a double mastectomy and am sure these companies would never produce clothing that mocks cancer.  But Gretchen, Monica, and Katlyn died.  And these companies want to make money by ridiculing the disorder that killed those beautiful girls.

I like the movie, “In and Out” starring Kevin Kline.  It’s about a teacher realizing he is gay.  It’s a fun movie.  But in one scene, Matt Dillon is in a hurry to see his former teacher when Matt’s model girlfriend says, “Wait!  I haven’t had a chance to eat and vomit yet.”  A truly unfunny and unnecessary attempt at humor.

There is nothing funny here.  There are just more names – Nicole, Barbi, Carrie, Amy, Polly, Melissa, Kim, Anna. Gretchen died in May and Monica died last week and Katlyn died last year.