Every now and again you see something that alarms you, something that has a deeply emotional effect on you, something that makes you want to take action that would help a fellow human being. Yesterday's interview on Channel 4’s Supersize versus Superskinny had that effect on me.
The programme highlighted the plight of 40 year old Valeria Levitin, who has been labelled the world’s skinniest woman.
Valeria developed anorexia as a teenager. She believes she developed the illness in response to her mothers close monitoring of her weight.
“We are not designed to be skeletons”, she said talking about her weight… “Being this thin is not the greatest feeling in the world, because people are repulsed”.
“People think there is an anorexic look”, Valeria told a group of parents seeking advice on how to spot the signs of an eating disorder. “There is no anorexic look just anorexic behaviour, which leads to the anorexic look. Weight is a mere symptom; it is not the cause or the root of the problem”.
Valeria then advised parents to look for, “any kind of obsessive behaviour with food. You know all of a sudden they start selecting very carefully or cutting out certain things”.
Responding to a question by a parent, on how to approach a child if they were worried about their eating she said:
“I think it should start much earlier, it should be a part of upbringing, A part of a healthy upbringing. Not focusing you know too much on food or appearance; don't focus on the negative.
“It is important to tell children that they are the best, that they’re good, they're smart, they're beautiful. The best medicine in the world is prevention.
In an interview with Emma Woolf, who herself suffered from anorexia for 10 years, the conversation centred on Valeria appearance and health.
“Do you care when people stare at you”? Emma asked.
“You get used to it, but I like to be left alone”.
“Do you think you've gone too far”, Emma asked, “but you just can't get back to a normal weight or do you think that you will gradually?
“I will”, Valeria stated adding: “The longer you damage your body, even when you want to become normal it is difficult.
“There is food that I like and there is food that I can't eat right now, because of the state my body is in”.
Next the pair discussed why Valeria had decided to go public and her attempts to discourage those asking for advice on how to look like her.
“I want to educate that you don't want to look like me”, said Valeria. “You don't want to go down that path.
“I just tell them it is the wrong path to starve yourself. Self destructive behaviour it will eventually isolate you, destroy your life and you'll not be the person that you want to be."
We wish Valeria success in attempts to regain her health.