Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fasting to Fight Famine

I definitely want to update about the meeting with M and my mom yesterday but I haven't really had a chance to process everything and I know I won't be able to articulate it well right now.  But it went okay and I do feel a little better about things.

Anyway, there was kind of a funny moment when I got to M's office.  I was coming straight from work, but I got held up and was about 10 minutes late.  I came bursting through the door huffing and puffing and stressing because oh how I hate being late.  My mom and M were already there and I was a mess trying to un-fluster myself and be composed and explain why I wasn't on time and I said, "Sorry! I had to go to a meeting about the fast-"

And both my mom and M blurted out in perfect unison: "You can't fast!" and then just turned and looked at each other in this mixture of shock/horror/slight bewilderment.  They have only actually met each other a few times but at that moment, they were on exactly the same page.

To be clear, I did NOT fast yesterday, but most of the people at work did.  There was a 24-hour office-wide fast to raise money and awareness for the famine in Africa (I'm not 100% sure how it worked - I think you were supposed to get family or neighbors or whoever to sponsor you for fasting for the day or something like that.)

So, obviously, I did not have the green light to forgo food for the day, nor did I particularly want to.  First of all, I don't think I could forgo food for a day.  I get predictably hungry every 3-4 hours like clockwork - any longer, and I start getting the sick dizzy faint-y feeling.  Even in my hardcore anorexic days, I still ate pretty regularly.  Just not much.  Secondly, I knew I was getting weighed at M's that afternoon and definitely did not want to step on the scale with nothing in my stomach.

Thirdly, and on a slightly different note, I don't know if fasting for a day is the most sensitive way to raise awareness for a famine.  It almost seems like you are minimizing the problem - "Hey, starving Somalians, look at me!  I can go without food too, see?  I get it!  Wow, you're right - this totally sucks!"

(Am I reading too much into this?  Am I just overly sensitive to the starvation issue?)

I think the rationale is that the fast is an act of solidarity - rather than stuffing our rich, Western selves with delicious fattening food while millions are starving to death, we will devote this one day to trying, in some small way, to empathize with their suffering.  I can understand it from that angle.

Still, it doesn't exactly sit right with me.  I guess it's sort of like when people use"dieting" and "being anorexic" interchangeably.  Someone can cut her intake and lose lots of weight and be skinny, but that does not mean she's anorexic.  One is a choice and the other is not.  A diet is not anorexia, and a fast is not a famine.

1 comment:

  1. (late comment, I've been out of town, again)

    I agree with you. I never thought that fasting was all that great of a way to address famines or any other issue. When I was a teenager and still Catholic, I never did fasting days and instead of giving something up for Lent I would pledge to do something extra every day instead. I had talked to my priest about it, and he agreed that I didn't need to go out of my way to do extra things to prove my abstemiousness. Plus, even temporary fasts can be a setback ED wise. I wrote a paper once for an anthropology class about the role of religious fasting in ED etiology.

    I'm glad that you were aware enough to not try to push yourself to fast with the office, and that your appointment went okay. Hang in there!