Gender, Eating Disorders, and Graphic Medicine (Routledge, 2020)
by Anu Mary Peter and Sathyaraj Venkatesan
The book investigates how graphic medicine enables individuals to represent eating disorders as an aftermath of potentially traumatizing experiences like coercion, abjection, body shaming, and powerlessness. Although many verbal narratives of eating disorders in women have emerged since 1978, not many have successfully transcended the philanthropic and cathartic imperatives of autobiographical writing. While most of the available memoirs remain guidebooks on treatment and diet plans with scant glimpses of affective and phenomenological realities, graphic medical narratives portray how eating disorders are caused by a plethora of psychosomatic experiences that are often too traumatic to be verbalized. In this context, upon considering the minimal attention that eating disorder narratives have received in comics studies, the book aims to significantly contribute to the emerging body of research on eating disorders and graphic medicine by critically analyzing the following graphic narratives on eating disorders: Nadia Shivack’s Inside Out: Portrait of an Eating Disorder (2007), Carol Lay’s The Big Skinny: How I Changed My Fattitude (2008), Lesley Fairfield’s Tyranny (2009), Ludovic Debeurme’s Lucille (2011), Karrie Fransman’s The House That Groaned (2012), Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow (2013), and Ink in Water: An Illustrated Memoir (Or, How I Kicked Anorexia’s Ass and Embraced Body Positivity) by Lacy J. Davis and Jim Kettner (2016). The book contributes to developing affective knowledge of eating disorders among women through comics and graphic medicine. Besides offering a unique ingress into women’s phenomenological experience of eating disorders, this work also explores how graphic medicine humanizes eating disorders.