The Waiting Room / Anorexia Tableau
Image by Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
Reassembled, carved and wood-burned chair bones; mirror platform
Beaded bracelets created by college students and family members in Kansas, Minnesota, and Illinois
Headphones; audio recordings and sound compositions: No One Could Make Me Eat, Frightened to Death, Ana Wants
A skeletal, distressed, cut up wooden chair personifies the painful emptiness experienced by victims of eating disorders.
Spilled on the floor are hundreds of intestine-like, blood red, white and blue beaded bracelets, like those sometimes worn by “Pro-Ana” or “Pro-Mia” members. Fueled by the Internet and social media, this disturbing ‘secret society’ trend presents eating disorders as desirable behavior and simply a “lifestyle choice.” Along with virtual communities, these web-based groups provide effective starvation technique tips and post ‘thinspiration’ images of anorexic celebrities and models. They encourage those battling eating disorders to ‘stick with it,’ and can trigger relapse for those in recovery.
Anorexia is the most deadly mental illness. A person with the disease has a dangerously low body weight and thinks about food constantly, but limits the amount eaten to gain a sense of control over their lives. 12% of people who develop anorexia will die from complications. The mortality rate for eating disorders is 12 times higher than that of all other illnesses for females 15-24 years old. 85% of anorexics and bulimics are female, but the incidence in males is growing. Only one in ten people with an eating disorder receives treatment.