For the love of food! And, for the love of love (even the painful kind), and the very difficult love of one’s self and one’s body. That’s what I believe Howard wrote Feast for. And thankfully, also for those of us who have suffered or are suffering like she did, with the desire that she could stand as a voice of experience and hope.
Being a stocky, muscular girl myself, I could relate to Howard’s vision of herself as a young girl from the first page. Like me, she felt huge, monstrous, not at all dainty or skinny as she saw her peers. This is a seed we can all relate to, as well as Howard’s decision to change her feelings about herself by changing her weight and starving herself until she could feel her rib cage and have a space between her thighs.
For me, my eating disorder was all about control. Like Howard, I believed if I got skinny nothing would ever hurt me again and I would be happy.
One of the most powerful lines of the book was Howard’s recollection of a fellow eating disorder sufferer who struggled with anorexia, and told her the reason we try to make ourselves skinny is because it is the only part of our beauty that we can control. That sentence struck me like a spear to the chest.
For me, my eating disorder was all about control. Like Howard, I believed if I got skinny nothing would ever hurt me again and I would be happy. But, as Howard so aptly explains, once she got skinny and willed herself through extreme control and starvation to become the size she thought would make her happy, it did not make her happy. I’m confident this is the case for so many others who will themselves to skinny.
While navigating those often confusing and trying questions, Howard shares one constant love throughout: her love of food, which for someone recovering from an eating disorder is so important.
For me, Feast was not only a story about Howard’s struggle with an eating disorder, it was also about a young woman’s struggle with the most difficult parts of life that we all face: Is this a good person for me to love and share my life with? Is this career satisfying and fulfilling me? Is this a healthy size for my body to be?
While navigating those often confusing and trying questions, Howard shares one constant love throughout: her love of food, which for someone recovering from an eating disorder is so important. Food is a wonderful, delicious, necessary thing.
Howard’s story is a powerful inspiration to stop hating food, to stop trying to find happiness through extreme and unhealthy body control, and to start pursuing a healthy, wholesome love for food and for your amazing, capable body. Thank you, Hannah, for sharing your struggle and your story with us.