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WASTED by Marya Hornbacher

WASTED

A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

By Marya Hornbacher

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-018739-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

 Bulimic since she was 9 years old, anorexic since she was about 15, the author reveals how and why women with these eating disorders can be helped and, most of all, how long it takes for that help to take hold. Hornbacher, a freelance editor and writer, is now 23 years old and, if not well (``it's never over, not really''), at least ingesting and keeping down enough food to sustain life and begin the repairs of the heart and other organs that were ravaged by over a decade of vomiting and starvation. Not yet convinced that she will survive, she struggles each morning over her bowl of ``goddamn Cheerios'' to let go of the urge to be thinner and of ``the bitch in your head'' who says, ``You're fat.'' With the help of journals and thousands of pages of her own medical records, Hornbacher explores why she began trying to make herself disappear. Although in many ways she fit the profile of a person with an eating disorder--her family life was emotionally chaotic, she was a perfectionist--Hornbacher feels there is more to it, including society's dictate that ``you can't be too rich or too thin.'' In and out of eating-disorder clinics and mental institutions for many years, she also encountered general practitioners who accepted her extremely low weight--she bottomed out at 52 pounds--as normal. Descriptions of both the desperate need to binge and purge and the grip of the addiction to not- eating are vivid. Along the way, Hornbacher was involved with drugs and promiscuous sex but managed to keep her habits and her lifestyle a secret. Hornbacher's message is a warning about the complexity of eating disorders--that they are not simply about food or parental missteps or even ``thin is in,'' but about a tapestry of dysfunction that gives rejection of nourishment a terrible potency of its own. (First serial to New Woman; radio satellite tour)