Hadley Freeman On Anorexia

Hadley Freeman is a journalist and author. She worked for the Guardian and now for the Times.

This was, predictably, a book signing after listening to her being interviewed (by Helen Lewis) about her book on anorexia. Freeman suffered from it for years and had several long stays in hospital where she was with other anorexics.

Not all her treatment was helpful. One doctor put her on something that triggered a latent epilepsy from which she has suffered ever since. Thankfully, something has lessened the frequency of attacks. She did say what that something was but I forget.

In this shot she is talking to my wife Tamara and looks decidedly less defeated than she looked when talking to the person who was in the queue ahead of us. That said, she looks wan and less than in full health. It could be she was simply tired but I thought maybe it was the toll on her of those years of anorexia and something deeper in her.

Freeman talked very well about anorexia and she had a different take on it than I have heard before. Rather than that the anorexic thinks they look great, they are expressing that they are ill. They do not have a different way to express it so it comes out in the body. She talked about the desire in young girls and woman not to be a seen as a sexual object by men. She mentioned it being caused by a fear of the gaze of men or of their own mystifying burgeoning sexuality. I hope I got that right but if it interests you there is her book on the subject – Good Girls -A Story and Study of Anorexia.

It’s not just a look back at her own experience but an understanding based on interviews with fellow sufferers with whom she was in hospital and doctors who talk about how treatment has changed over the years.

That said, she explained that there is no treatment in the sense of a medicine to make it all go away. Freeman mentioned how OCD took over as anorexia lessened, and that she believes she has a predisposition, partly genetic and partly something else unspecified beyond just being ‘like that’ that caused her anorexia.

She was clear that under-eating and overeating are two sides of the same coin and that bulimia, because it is hidden, is not of the same family.

All in all, well worth going and I learned something.

Pattie Boyd

Pattie Boyd book signing
Pattie Boyd at a book signing in Cambridge 21 April 2023

Pattie Boyd at a book signing in Cambridge 21 April 2023. Photographed with a Ricoh GR III at ISO 800, 1./10 second at f2.8. I held the camera at mid chest height and looked down estimating when the subject was properly in the frame. This is a crop, my wife is stood just to Pattie’s side.

After signing these two books (Tamara bought one for a close friend) Pattie got into an involved conversation with my wife. They got on like a house on fire, and I photographed the conversation on my iPhone.

Pattie Boyd on Wikipedia

Patricia Anne Boyd (born 17 March 1944) is an English model and photographer. She was one of the leading international models during the 1960s and, with Jean Shrimpton, epitomised the British female look of the era. Boyd married George Harrison in 1966, experiencing the height of the Beatles’ popularity and sharing in their embrace of Indian spirituality. She divorced Harrison in 1977 and married Harrison’s friend Eric Clapton in 1979; they divorced in 1989. Boyd inspired Harrison’s songs ” Need You”, “If I Needed Someone”, “Something” and “For You Blue”, and Clapton’s songs “Layla”, “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Wonderful Tonight”.

George Monbiot

George Monbiot writes for the Guardian and has written a book Regenesis: Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet.

He was interviewed by Bee Wilson, a food critic, a week ago or so at the Cambridge Literary Festival. Someone had a sense of humour in pairing the two of them. Monbiot’s message for the evening was that the planet is drowning in animals raised for food. Animal meat and milk feeds a tiny proportion of the world’s people compared to the land devoted to raising feed to feed the animals.

Moving to a plant-based diet will not help because the land use is increased to the detriment of the planet’s need for a wild ecosystem.

What will help, he says, is to bring science into the picture and culture high protein flour. Culturing food has a small footprint and does not require an outside source of biomass to keep it going.

He gave some figures on the makeup of the animal biomass of the planet, but the talk moved too quickly for me to retain it all. So I looked up the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and now I have a bigger picture.

Total Biomass

Plants make up about 80 percent of of the Earth’s biomass; bacteria make up about 15 percent; and the remaining 5 percent is animal biomass. 

Animal Biomass

Of the animal biomass, things that crawl (arthropods) make up 50 percent, and fish, humans, livestock, and wild animals and birds make up the other 50 percent. 

Mammal and Bird Biomass

So now we are drilling down to humans, and to mammals and birds that are kept in captivity and raised for food, and to wild animals.

Of the total biomass of mammals and birds, those farmed for food makes up around 60 percent, and wild mammals only 4 percent. The other 36 percent is us – humans.

Perspective

So, 5 percent of all biomass is animal, and of that fish, humans, livestock, and wild animals and birds account for 50 percent. And of that 2.5 percent of all biomass, 60%, – or 1.5% of all biomass – is animals and birds farmed for food. Yet to support their continuance as a food source, we take up huge swathes of land to make feed to feed to those animals, to feed a tiny proportion of humans.

Monbiot’s argument is that we in the developed nations are living irresponsibly at the top of the biosphere, causing overshoot.

Overshoot – the inability of a system to maintain itself because it devours the materials that are required for its maintenance. 

How very individually we think and feel, and how differently we are required to think and feel if we are not to speed on and overshoot the capacity of the planet to feed us.

Book Signing

Tamara bought Monbiot’s book about six months ago, and she brought it to the event.

The book is ‘Regenesis: Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet

I asked George Monbiot if it was OK to photograph him, and I took these shots as my wife Tamara talked to him about Compassion In World Farming, a charity that she supports. Monbiot had heard of the organisation and he too is in favour of it.

Animals raised for food worldwide are treated abominably. There is an argument for saying that if animals were treated compassionately, part of the problem outlined by Monbiot would be alleviated because demand could not be met, And that could be a good start to weaning off meat.

Camera Notes

I took these photos with a Ricoh GR III held at about waist height. I could see the LCD, so it wasn’t too difficult to get the framing. I shot in Aperture Priority at ISO 2000, 1/40th second at f2.8