Reflections of an Ex-Anorexic: Beauty

Making sense of the struggle has unearthed many questions. The cycle of body image, perfection, calorie counting… had to lead some where. Beauty. The well-worn path meandered, looping carelessly back to the past and  stretching outdated values into the future.

Beauty, what is it? What happens in the mind of a person with anorexia? Is their perception of beauty different? Can the insidious web of the disease keep the sufferer trapped, centred on a fixed idea? How did the idea of beauty arise? What did that mean to me?


Living in society we are immersed in a sea of options. Beauty is but one yard-stick, a standard of comparison, a double-edged sword that fosters dissatisfaction when ideals are not met. We consider beauty a combination of appearance and psychological factors such as personality, intelligence, grace, politeness, charisma, integrity, elegance etc.

Humans with clear, young skin,  well proportioned bodies and regular features are often considered beautiful.

I considered my mother beautiful but her type of beauty was more suited to the Italian Renaissance: an ample bosom, rounded stomach, full hips and fair lightly freckled skin. Dad loved her. But it was not for me. After her death, I looked at an old photo of my mother with elegantly plucked brows, mascara and lipstick, garnet earrings revealed by an effortless up-do of her wavy hair. It floored me.

Born in 1959, I grew up in the sixties, an adolescent in the seventies. My childhood years spent watching old black and white films with my mother. Some still set in the ‘Roaring 20’s,’ with flat chested women and boyish figures, with bobbed hair and thin brows. Mama also loved the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood, with the curvy figures, hour-glass waists and large breasts. The hourglass appealed to me.

But we lived through the 60’s where willowy figures, long slim legs and lashes had gained prominence, hips were out. The adolescent type physique appealed to near adolescent me. Already, I’d made some decisions about my future look just from the influences around me burbling forth innocently from lounge room TV set.

I too became a victim of my perception of beauty and the social acceptance it could bring. In true seventies style I chose:

  • to be slender
  • tanned
  • to adopt a centre part which in later years became a wedge cut
  • show off thin eyebrows
  • smokey sepia eyes
  • wear Charlie’s Angel Fashion: skinny rib tops, high waisted pants, checked shirts
  • Charlie Perfume
  • and pale blue nail polish

The look was easily maintained but the body…

Kindly leave a comment? What has influenced your fashion choices?


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