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Anorexia is for Rich Women

by Audrey T. Carroll

Black and white image of a person bending over with their spine in focus.
Image credit: Jairo Alzate on Unsplash

A man shouts the myth

over me

at a bar in the middle

of the day & I am seething but

I have not yet learned how

to turn my fury into action

It does not matter that we

declared bankruptcy

1 year before my first period

2 years before Weight Watchers

3 years before I was assaulted

the first time

It does not matter that I wanted nothing

more than to dissolve the parts of me

that an adult man had touched,

as though I could detach body from memories so simply

But this betrays the truth:

a mental illness is no more rational

than a country letting its people starve

I understood his point—

it was all about choice

But whose choice?

(Who’s to blame?)

Because anorexia is the illusion

of choice, so often made in lack

of any alternative, the only control

in a world full of variables

Because anorexia is a mental illness,

right there in the Diagnostic and Statistical

Manual of Mental Disorders—

See: Feeding and Eating Disorders

See: Anorexia Nervosa

See: F50.01 Restricting Type

(& the last time I checked,

telling people they’re at fault

for their mental illness makes

you an asshole)

But he was right, in a way:

a grown man’s choice

seeded the need for control

(control lost, control gained)

Who’s at fault?

(Who’s to blame?)

& poverty is certainly no

choice—no one chooses to bankrupt

themselves on cough & cold medicine

during flu season, to rob themselves

of fresh summer fruits when literally

any other option seems viable

& yet poverty is a choice:

a choice of people who have

pensions, 401Ks, yachts

& summer homes & plans

for retirement—but enough

of the victim blaming bullshit

So much overlap, too:

counting calories counting dollars

losing hair losing hair

weakness & dizziness

fatigue & strain

adrenaline & cortisol & norepinephrine

They don’t tell you

in the DSM or the online fact sheets

Black and white image of a girl sitting alone at the edge of a platform overlooking the view.
Image credit: MuiZur on Unsplash

how the mental illness stays with you—


how stress triggers your body into food repulsion

how not eating when you can’t afford to annihilates

appetite & immune system,


the will to live

They don’t tell you

& they don’t listen


Black and white photo of the author, Audrey T. Carroll.
Audrey T. Carroll

Audrey T. Carroll is the author of What Blooms in the Dark (ELJ Editions, 2024), Parts of Speech: A Disabled Dictionary (Alien Buddha Press, 2023), and In My Next Queer Life, I Want to Be (kith books, 2023). Her writing has appeared in Lost Balloon, CRAFT, JMWW, Bending Genres, and others. She is a bi/queer/genderqueer and disabled/chronically ill writer. She can be found at and @AudreyTCarroll on Twitter/Instagram.

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