Recently I was watching a documentary on HBO called “Thin”. It’s about four women who are at a clinic for eating disorders. All the women are too thin. Hence the title of the film.

I know all about how “the media” gives young girls visions of unrealistic body types i.e. almost everyone on TV and in the movies is young, pretty, tall and thin but I still find this “thin” disorder baffling. I don’t fit the demographic model for those who have the disorder but I should be able to relate to it on a human level. Yet it’s tough with this one.

I find other common disorders much less baffling and and more easily explainable.

Overeating: food tastes good and it makes people feel good to eat. When people don’t have a lot in their life to make them feel good they can eat to feel good. There is tons of food around so it’s an easy temptation. I’ve overeaten at times and have eaten because something tastes good rather than because I’m hungry. I can relate. That’s an easy one.

Alcohol: Feeling bad? Have a drink and you’ll feel better. That’s why the stuff was invented. Drink too much and it will make you feel bad all of the time and then you need some hair of the dog. Then you have a problem. I am not nor never have been a drinker but I understand wanting to feel good, wanting change your mindset, or escaping from the everyday. I can relate.

Gambling: It gives people a rush (so I’m told I get no rush) and makes them feel alive. When it’s someone’s only way to feel alive life gets crazy. Math, numbers, and odds are real to me in such a way that I know the house will always win in the long run. I can’t get past that and as a result have no interest in gambling but I understand wanting to get rich quick. And thrills. Who doesn’t understand being hook on a thrill?

Sure those explanations don’t take into account the complexities of any given individual’s life and they may be simplistic but at least the allow me to relate on some level to those who suffer from those problems.

Undereating I don’t easily relate too. It really looks to me that it should be mostly an emotional problem. I think overeating is mostly an emotional problem. Eat to fill an emotional void and it becomes a habit. Fix the underlying emotional problem and the habit of overeating can be fixed easier. Undereating (in the program I was watching I know no undereaters myself) doesn’t seem to have an underlying emotional problem. At least not one I could see. Don’t get me wrong, the women all seemed to have emotional problems just none that I could see obviously linked to the undereating. I can usually see the emotional problems liked to overeating. Especially in TV documentaries where they spell things out for you.

Maybe undereating baffles me because these women seem to be getting nothing out of it. They are all unhealthy and miserable yet want to be thin so badly that they are perfectly willing to continue not eating. One even said that if death was the price of being thin then she was willing to pay it. Ouch.

To further confuse me the women don’t even know that they are thin. They think they are fat. Overeaters know that they are fat. How come undereaters don’t know they are thin? It’s a whole different ballgame. It’s like their brains are wired in a completely upside down way. This disorder passes my comprehension by. But I do feel for them. Underweight is even more dangerous than overweight and the women’s suffering in this documentary is clear. I think I need a cookie.