In an interview with The Sunday Times, Baroness Bakewell (82)
voiced what turned out to be a very controversial opinion of anorexia.
She believes that anorexia is “one example of the way [young] people have become very self-regarding”.
"I am alarmed”, she said, “by anorexia among young people,
which arises presumably because they are preoccupied with being beautiful and
healthy and thin.
"No one has anorexia in societies where there is not enough food.
"They do not have anorexia in the camps in Syria. I think it's possible anorexia could be about narcissism. A sign of the overindulgence of our society, over-introspection, narcissism really."
Baroness Bakewell’s comments received much media, professional and public attention. Responses included:
"Anorexia, just like any other mental health problem”, said the spokeswoman for Time to Change (mental health campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink), "is a genuine and debilitating condition, with complex causes.
"The stigma and misunderstanding surrounding these issues only makes life harder for people going through them, so what we need is increased understanding and support."
"It's not your daughter who's narcissistic: it's the culture," a parent tweeted.
In a blog response, research student Emma Seaber, stated: "Bakewell's
view is symptomatic of a broader misunderstanding of eating disorders.
"And her presentation of her opinion in the national press is part of a media trend propelling pervasive beliefs about the influence of mass media on anorexia incidence or on 'prospective' anorexia patients."
Responding to the public debate Baroness Bakewell tweeted: "If
I've stirred a public discussion about anorexia... Good. Let's have more
research and information."
She then insisted that she had been "misinterpreted”, adding “I am deeply sad that young people get anorexia and was speculating loosely about what might cause it."