It Ain’t Over Until the Fat Lady Starves

On the eve of the new season at Milan’s La Scala, one of the ballet company’s leading lights has dramatically revealed the extent of bulimia and anorexia among ballerinas.

Breaking an unspoken rule never to discuss eating disorders among Italy‘s elite dance corps, Mariafrancesca Garritano told the Observer that one in five ballerinas that she knew was anorexic and, as a result, many were now unable to have children.

Garritano said that seven out of 10 dancers at the academy had their menstrual cycles stop as they competed to eat less. “I would get by on an apple and a yoghurt a day, relying on adrenaline to make it through rehearsal,” she said.  “Some dancers were rushed to hospital to be fed through tubes, others were hit by depression and still need counselling today….I still get serious intestinal pains and frequent bone fractures, which I think are linked to dieting.”–

Yes, but think of the money they she save on birth control devices.  Not to mention those pricey Italian desserts.

It’s tempting to draw a parallel here with American athletes abusing HGH and anabolic steroids to give themselves a competitive edge, even in the face of dire warnings about developing severe acne, impotence and shriveled up balls, and long-term effects that include brain cancer, dementia, and crippling arthritis.  They did it anyway, oif course, clearly understanding that it meant the difference between unimaginable millions of dollars as a celebrated superstar and a miserable, anonymous career in the foundry.

However, these dancers are not torturing themselves for earthly rewards, which, given the business they’re in, are relatively meager (especially compared to professional athletes).  They’re sacrificing themselves for their art; their devotion to perfecting their appearance and performance for aesthetic reasons.   It’s a higher calling.  If it’s not pure, it’s as close to it as mortals get.

Musicians work their fingers into arthritic agony, and suffer maddening tinnitus, even deafness.  Photographers risk personal danger, even death, to capture the perfect shot at the perfect time and place where ordinary people would  flee for their lives.  Even actors, occupying the lowest rung in the hierarchy of artists, and competing in the least respectful of the arts, will take risks and harm themselves for the sake of their appearance and performance, if need be.

History is filled with artists of all different liver and lights who labored ceaselessly, without regard for their own well-being, to create the ultimate masterpiece, whether the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or the mathematically and sensually perfect final symphonic movement.

Most of us lack the talent, the will, and the tenacity for this endeavor.  We are privileged to share a planet with those who do.  Don’t condemn an artist’s devotion.  Be grateful for his life’s commitment, support his labor, and respect his choice.  It’s fucking sublime.

This entry was posted in Gen. Snark, Maj. Snafu, Corp. Punishment. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to It Ain’t Over Until the Fat Lady Starves

  1. julesagray says:

    As a former-anorexic/bulimic, i feel for these women. It sucks shit to get caught up in this nasty as hell eating disorder.

    • Key Liam says:

      What eating disorder? This is over-training, like a marathoner who pushes herself so hard she collapses, or a dancer who bloodies her feet and toes until they’re deformed. Jockeys who are compelled to keep their weight down do the same thing. These aren’t disorders, even if the behavior is similar.

  2. Frank of Oregon says:

    What you see here isn’t the result of an eating disorder, although the effect on the body may be the same. These dancers deliberately reduce their caloric intake not for unknown psychosocial reasons, or neurotic misconstrual of their own appearance, or any of the classic manifestations associated with anorexia and bulimia. Instead, they’re executing a severe training regimen that without question damages their health. While it’s tempting to equate the two courses of action, they’re distinct in their motivation and focus.

  3. Barbara Ganousch says:

    No no and no. This makes no sense at all. Neither their performance nor their appearance would be compromised, let alone ruined, by a reasonable and healthy meal regimen: in fact, both would be enhanced. I’m all for the arts, but not at this human cost.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed! There is nothing about ballet that says you will dance better if you have a normal BMI versus having a dangerously low one. It is the same issue as in the modeling industry… those in charge will choose the skinnier girls because society says they are “prettier.” When we stop forcing girls to think skeleton-thin is “pretty,” maybe we’ll stop losing them to this horrible, life-threatening illness that will always result in death if left untreated.

      • Frank of Oregon says:

        Anonymous: I won’t argue with your characterization of eating disorders as life-threatening illnesses, but I don’t agree that these dancers are its victims. Their choice of action is reasoned and deliberate, and their goals are crystal clear. I suspect they would love to be able to indulge their natural appetites, but at the cost of their careers, the price is too high. It’s a sad tale, but not one of illness and delusion.

  4. Scott says:

    I only wish mimes had to suffer more for their art.

  5. Vincent Van Gough says:

    Hey….I’m not a musician. Why’d I go deaf?….in one ear?

  6. Ludwig Van Beethoven says:

    Speak up, Dumkopf!

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