I have just returned from the Graphic Novel Conference at Mansfield College Oxford, where MK, Michael Green and I conducted a panel on Graphic Medicine. Among the speakers was the Australian graphic novelist and writer Bruce Mutard to whom I was introduced by Paul Gravett. Bruce was interested in what we are doing at Graphic Medicine, and told me that he had previously drawn a strip on eating disorders in the male.
The strip is viewable online (scroll down through Bruce’s short stories to find it)
Published in Tango, Love and Food. Edited by Bernard Caleo, published by Cardigan Comics.
This is what Bruce says about the story:
‘There is a popular perception that eating disorders only afflict women and are in response to popular media portrayals of skinny models and actresses as exemplars of modern beauty and femininity. Bullshit and bullshit.
Perhaps my view is overly subjective, but for me, an eating disorder is generated by low self-esteem, not necessarily linked to appearance, wherein one attempts to ameliorate this by controlling the one thing any person normally has total control over: your own body. One of the surest ways to ‘modify’ oneself is through eating, since, glibly, you are what you eat and it is easy to control what goes in.
It is certain that those who suffer anorexia, bulimia or orthorexia nervosa do not see themselves as other people see them. They have a distorted image of themselves in their minds, which never reaches the perfection they think will solve their esteem problem. I was under no illusions about my appearance; I could very well see I looked like I’d been a concentration camp. I did actually eat, but I did not eat enough. It is true that I have an ectomorphic body type, which means a fast metabolism makes it very difficult for me to put on weight. At my lowest, I was down to about 54kg; consider that I am 188cm tall. My BMI was about 16.5, the level at which my doc said that if I were a girl, he’d have put me into hospital. What I was doing was attacking myself for my own perceived failings, which were manifold. Starving myself was punishment for being a worthless excuse for a human being.’