This is the story of Jo, who at the age of 21 was suffering from bulimia, an eating disorder in which a person has a regular episodes of overeating and or binges on food and then uses different methods—such as vomiting or abusing laxatives—to prevent weight gain. Jo's obsession is not about being thin; "it's not about wanting to be the next Kate Moss' it’s about not gaining weight, in spite of the huge amount of food that she ingests every day. In 2010, I spent several week with Jo in her house in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. This story is the first Chapter of my personal project on eating disorders. This is Jo's story; and, although different, it is also mine. Through this Chapter, I seek to depict the everyday life of a girl who suffers from bulimia; capture the contradictory feelings and behaviors experienced daily; and bring awareness to this disorder so that the audience can empathize with girls who have this disease.
In the mornings, Jo woke up saying: “I hope this is going to be a good day.” She would try to have just her "normal" breakfeast: boiled carrots. An hour later, she began to get bored because she no plans for that day, which would force her to face the fact that she was tired and did not have a job. Unwilling to face this, she would start overeating as a result. Exactly, around twenty minutes later, she would disapper into the bathroom, where within closed doors, she vomited. Throughout the day, she would repeat this process around four to five times or even more on worst days, until she went to sleep.
I accompanied her everywhere, including to the different supermarkets she goes to in order to avoid getting caught. She spent a lot of time at home, watching movies in her computer. I witnessed her daily routines, including moments of crisis, then eating and vomiting, immediately after. She confessed to me that she also hurts herself by making small cuts in her legs and feet. I witnessed good days turn into very bad ones, meanwhile, when in public, Jo acted as if everything was absolutely fine. And this is actually what this illness is all about: pretending that everything is all right while it’s not; an apparent normality that makes bulimia one of the hardest disorders to diagnose and a devastating killer of female teenagers and young adults worldwide.
Jo does not look overweight. She hates her body; she cannot even look at herself in the mirror when wearing leggings. Bulimia has taken all her time and money, and also her passion for dancing. “If I was not bulimic I would be dancing like before" – Jo says – "But ballet is about elegance and perfection, and I’m a crap person in the middle of chaos”. Jo also thinks that her addiction is ‘disgusting’, which is why, she had never told anyone about it—not even her boyfriend. For some reason, she decided to share her story with me.