Ten to fifteen percent of Americans have an eating disorder. On the other end of it, 61% of us are overweight or obese (myself included). That means that only about 25% of people are in “normal” body weight range or have a healthy relationship with food.
These numbers seem pretty staggering to me. I think back to the books I read, and most of them describe their characters in a way that makes them sound like they’re in that 25%. If the characters do have an eating disorder or are overweight, it tends to be the focus of the book.
I’m not saying that this is wrong; I’m simply trying to look at things in a different way. Do we want normal characters, or perfect characters? Personally, I love the escapism that books bring. I love being able to escape into a book for a little while and not have to worry about real life.
However, isn’t if flaws and quirks that make characters memorable?
What brought all this to mind was an article I read by a woman who is in recovery from an eating disorder. She says that reading books about eating disorders can be triggering, and that anything thorough enough for the general public reads like a “how to” manual for anorexics and bulimics in training.
Pardon the pun, but it’s food for thought.