Contemporary society and its gender stereotypes create favorable environment for dissatisfaction of women with themselves and their bodies. As a result they start obsessing with food that usually masks deeper psychological problems, unexpressed emotions, everyday loneliness, and feelings of being misunderstood.
The project “Voices” features 12 women who shared their experiences of life with eating disorder
I ate only apples and cabbage. I thought one did not grow from them. It was something absolutely irrational. I thought if I grew one centimeter, became fatter or bigger – the world would turn upside down.
To constantly keep everything under control, exercise, try not to come into conflict with my parents, disguise, wear several layers of clothing so that no one could see.
I had an obsession – to eat according to a schedule. Lunch at exactly 3 pm. Even if it was 2 minutes before the designated hour – I would not sit down to eat. I would panic if there was nothing on the table 5 minutes before 3 pm.
It was a structure that held me together. A dimensional structure made of wire. But for it I would crumble. As if I could not have trusted my intuitive feelings.
I truly believed that I am not beautiful, convinced myself that if I ate I would die…Standing in front of the mirror I repeated that I hate every cell of my body and dreamed that my skin would wrap my bones. Only that would make me beautiful.
Even now I am not always satisfied with myself. I do not necessarily need to look into the mirror. If my body is out of shape that means I am bad. That is a chain.
It all started when I realized that my father was hurting my mother. I did not know how to protect my mom. I loved her very much and decided to stop eating.
They loved me very much and thought that a single most important thing for a child is to be well fed. When I turned 17 I started eating when I was stressed or had problems.
I felt void inside, as if everything was cleaned up. I started eating to fill this emptiness. I would show huge amounts of food down my mouth, and then threw up to continue eating.
It was ridiculous to share this with my sister. She has been dieting for last 10 years. It is like a game for her – she controls herself a lot. For my parents this was not a problem either…I was very afraid to disappoint them and bottled everything up inside.
I got used to being sick. I now have no idea what I want. I am like a sleepwalker. I go to work because I have to. I do not have any desires. Only something I have to do.
I look back and think….I am a biologist, how could I? I know about all this on a cellular level. What can you do if self-preservation instinct shuts down…
I was growing up with my older brother who bullied me all the time. I felt humiliated. I wished I was as strong as he. I decided to lose weight to look more like a boy.
Natalka Dovha is a photographer, film director, journalist.
Born in Ternopil (Ukraine) in 1981, she has earned degree at the Department of Journalism at the Kyiv International University. Recipient of a scholarship Gaude Polonia from the Polish Ministry of Culture in 2010. At the current moment is a student of Academy of Photography in Warsaw.
Since the very beginning of her artistic career, the main topic of her interest was mixed media exploration of people’s emotions and their relations with nature and body.