Monday, 3 March 2014

Here's my latest column for The Daily Beast

Straight-A Anorexics: Are Britain’s Private Schools Breeding Grounds For Anorexia?A new report claims that the perfectionistic, highly competitive environment of the UK’s top academies are making students prone to teen eating disorders...

This wasn’t news to me. From the ages of 11-18, I attended London’s top private girls’ school, along with both my sisters. Although I didn’t develop anorexia until the year after I left, I’m conscious that I conform to the anorexic stereotype: perfectionist, insecure, driven. The latest media reports outline precisely those same characteristics: academic and highly competitive. Individuals develop eating disorders for a range of complex reasons, of course—but of the hundreds of woman and men I have met with anorexia, every one conforms to this profile.

Why should the compulsion to excel—which propels these privileged students to Oxford. Cambridge, Harvard and Yale, among other top universities—also make them acutely vulnerable to eating disorders? To me it makes perfect, dangerous sense that intelligent, driven girls are prone to anorexia. They excel not just at English and Math, Drama and Science and Music, but also at exercise and weight-loss. They strive to be beautiful, popular, self-disciplined, and yes, thin.

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