Yesterday we were thinking about whether or not eating disorders are linked to a loss of modesty and rise in promiscuity, (as argued by Wendy Shalit). However, the actress Portia de Rossi claims in her autobiography, that sexual repression triggered her anorexia.
When de Rossi told her mother that she was attracted to women, her mum said that it was wrong and something to be ashamed of. As an actress, she also felt under pressure to keep her sexuality hidden, lest it cost her career.
For de Rossi, anorexia was her ‘first love’. She says,
I realised …that I need to be gay and you (her mum) need to be okay with it. I need to be able to come out because if I don’t I’m gonna be sick and die. So it’s one or the other.
Although they may appear to be contradictory, there are common denominators in both de Rossi and Shalit’s experience. Both express the immense cultural pressures and expectations placed upon our sexuality – albeit from the opposite extremes of licentiousness and moralism. Whether we deny or indulge our physical and sexual hungers, the end result is the same. We allow them to control us and misuse them as ways of exerting control over others.
Neither food nor sex are bad. In fact, as gifts of a good creator, they are very good. But when we forget that they point us to the Triune God and instead see them as ends in themselves, they end up destroying us. Similarly, our appetites – for food and for sex are all manner of other things are neutral. But when such desires become demands, they master us, rather than us mastering them.