The Hungry Mirror

It is another ravenous bloody Sunday, and I am trying to pass the time until I can eat again.  Nothing like a day of starvation to bring out the snarling animal in a woman.

I am so ashamed.  Because there is absolutely noble about my preoccupations.  My pursuit of getting as close as I can to the bones of my body is so horribly self-involved, self-obsessed.

But if I can just feel the sharpness of bone it will be all right.  I just have to get through today and I will be all right.

I can do it.  I must.

So go the tortured thoughts of the food-obsessed, self-starved young woman who is at the heart of Lisa de Nikolits novel The Hungry Mirror.  She’s intelligent, successful, savvy, and completely enslaved by her addiction to starvation and thinness.

This was not an easy novel to read.  It was well written and engaging, it’s short chapters and first person perspective making it almost journal like in quality.  But it’s difficult to reconcile  the amount of pain and suffering this woman puts herself through just to maintain some fractured ideal body image.  Not that I don’t understand the compunction to be thin, the societal imperative that thinness equals happiness and beauty.  It’s just painful to watch someone destroy their body in such a vicious way.  Denying oneself not only the value of nutrition but also the pleasure of food itself is utterly cruel.  To care so little about yourself that you can do this for years on end… frightening and sad.

Lisa de Nikkolits cuts right to the bone in writing this novel.  She creates a character we can really care about, and goes deeply into the heart of eating disorders  in such a way that we cannot ignore them.  It behooves all of us who are even the tiniest bit diet-obsessed to read The Hungry Mirror– you’ll never look at your reflection or your dinner in quite the same way again.

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5 thoughts on “The Hungry Mirror

  1. This sounds like a difficult read. I’m thankful that I have finally reached an age when I am no longer diet obsessed. I only think about being healthy but am not worried about being thin any more.

  2. oh geez, not sure I’ll dip into this one. Though I’m treating myself to “book break” right now. The “being thin” thing is so strong in this country and really does drive so many of us.
    It would be interesting if more people would write about it.

  3. I’m not sure I could read this although I admire the author’s resolve in writing it (and yours in reading it!). I wonder if the author goes into the background of her heroine? Only a large number of eating disorders are about issues of control for young women – if they have been prevented from taking control of their lives early on, then the need to exert it turns inwards. I see a lot of anorexia among my students who have learned too much self-discipline in the need to succeed at work and starve themselves as an extension of the the harsh inner critic. It’s a very scary illness as it’s so difficult to make a powerful intervention in it.

  4. The excerpt you chose *is* powerful. When I first began reading it, I thought it was your own words and I immediately grew anxious. (I was glad to realize it was an excerpt).

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