"An Eating Disorder Exposé," November 2006
Now a book, and airing on HBO this month, Thin, by photographer Lauren Greenfield, follows four women at Florida's Renfrew Center, an eating disorder clinic. Greenfield's thoughts about the experience:
Glamour: What surprised you most about what you saw at Renfrew?
Greenfield: The girls undergo periodic room searches for tape measures or products that contain alcohol [banned at most treatment centers since some patients also have substance abuse issues]. In the end, though, the girls have to want to get better. Recover can't be forced.
Glamour: What did help their recovery?
Greenfield: I loved the body tracing exercise [each girl draws an outline of her body and it's then drawn true to size], because they get to see their body distortion in black and white. Once they're making progress, they'll go on excursions, whether it's shopping at a mall or eating out, to prepare them for when they leave Renfrew; they have to learn to deal with seeing other women in the world.
Glamour: How did Thin change your view of eating disorders?
Greenfield: Most people relate to stressing over their body, but I didn't understand the mental illnesses these women struggle with. It's not about vanity or image; it's about control, numbing yourself. Anorexia used to be associated with rich, white girls, but it can affect anyone.