Jezebel just reported on a man who is “using his Twitter to promote ‘managed anorexia,’ which will ‘help girls all over the world know that to be skinny is to be perfect & to be fat is unacceptable.'” His name is Kenneth Tong, and I haven’t heard anything this utterly revolting and unbelievable in a very, very long time.
At first, I thought this was some kind of particularly tasteless satire, but it appears that this guy is for real. Tong is quoted as saying, “Assure you that my words aren’t a publicity stunt. I wholeheartedly endorse managed anorexia, as to be fat or even not thin is to fail life.” Some of his tweets include: “To not be thin is a sin. . . . Honestly, to have an imperfect body is to have an imperfect soul. . . . My Size Zero Pill will change lives, it’s like the modern day Schindler’s List. Will I be your salvation?”
I am speechless with outrage, with horror, with disbelief. I am a big proponent of freedom of speech, but I am very tempted to say that this man should not be allowed to speak. Anorexia can kill. It is not just a nice, healthy weight-loss plan. It is not even a sort of extreme, fad-ish diet (like the Adkins diet and whatnot). To quote a spokesperson for the U.K. eating disorder charity Beat, “Anorexia is a severe psychiatric illness with a high mortality rate.” The idea of “managing” anorexia as a “lifestyle” is ludicrous — that is, the idea of choosing to be anorexic as a healthy and reasonable way of living is absurd (I absolutely am not judging survivors of eating disorders).
I’ll be honest: I’m not an expert on eating disorders. My knowledge comes mainly from Courtney E. Martin’s book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body, research about eating disorders done in high school in preparation for the original one-act Perfect Disorder, and simply being socialized as a female in U.S. society.
However, I know one thing was certainty: anorexia is not healthy. It should not be promoted. Kenneth Tong’s messages are not only blindingly stupid, but incredibly harmful and dangerous. I am sickened both by his messages and by the fact that other people agree with him.