This artist’s work struck a chord with me because I’m personally very close to someone that is struggling with an eating disorder. It’s not as uncommon as you might think. However, you might not think you know of anyone with an eating disorder because many times those who have experienced it have become masters of deception and secrets. It’s a very private and painful thing to live through.
Some statistics say that just in the United States, ten million women and one million men are living their daily lives with Anorexia or Bulimia. It is usually obvious when someone has Anorexia because they are so far under what is considered to be a healthy body weight. However, many times it is difficult to recognize someone with Bulimia. Although since they are so “body-image” conscious, they are typically not overweight, many times they are not underweight either.
Most people don’t know this, but the reason people who are Bulimic many times aren’t as drastically underweight as people who are Anorexic is because purging (self-induced vomiting) can only eliminate up to 50% of the calories you eat. This is because digestion begins in the mouth. By the time the food reaches the stomach, and then gets purged out, 50% of the calories have already been absorbed by the body. Richard touched on this topic in the article he wrote called Anorexia & Bulimia: Magically Illustrated Understanding. Today I would like to showcase another artist that uses her own experiences with an eating disorder to fuel the inspiration for her illustrations.
Jessica Ward’s work directly faces body issues like Anorexia and Bulimia. As you see, hair is a focus in her artwork. In an insightful interview with Jessica on Wicked Halo, she says that “hair became the visual representation of eating disorders” for her. She also says, “it’s hypnotic and once you’re in it, you can’t get out.” I want to send a shout-out of love to anyone going through this experience. I hope you enjoy these illustrations as much as I have. These are all done in graphite and colored pencils. You can learn more about Jessica on her website here.