Thoughts On Brittany Murphy, Death, & Anorexia

Rumour has it that Brittany Murphy is dead at 32 from cardiac arrest.
Heart attack, in case you didn’t know, is one of the most common demises after long battles with eating disorders. Why?

“When anorexia has become this severe, the heart is often damaged. Not only is there not enough body fat to keep internal organs like the heart protected, but anemia, which weakens the blood, and the poor circulation which results in a lower body temperature means that the heart is unable to pump and circulate blood as effectively as it might otherwise. The loss of muscle mass can also apply to the heart, meaning that the muscles of the heart can physically weaken, and an overall drop in blood pressure and pulse can contribute to slower breathing rates. Unfortunately, if not remedied, these risks can lead to death.”

Excerpt found here.

In this more recent photo, it’s obvious she’s too thin. Her head is bigger than her waist. That’s beauty? Really?

My eating problems have been, and will continue to be, the struggle of my life. I can’t imagine the emotional and spiritual pressurecooker a life in Hollywood would have been for someone as fucked up as I once was. I can’t imagine how emotionally fragile teens and young adults navigate the psychic timebomb that working in the film & beauty-focused industries must be.

Every time another death like this happens, it takes weeks to find the cause. By then, the emotional impact of that celebrity’s loss has evaporated, and the angst over the stupidity of how they died and how needless it was, that just evaporates too.

There is no reason for anyone to die like this, assuming she’s dead of anorexia, but I daresay I’m not reckless to jump to that conclusion.

There is no reason an industry should sanction the kind of pressure many starlets feel to do this to themselves.

There is no reason you as an audience can’t stop supporting this endless vacuum life of never-good-enough by continuing to purchase magazines that perpetuate too-thin-is-beautiful aesthetics.

It’s time that we jump to conclusions. It’s time we get angry that somehow we’ve institutionalized Wasting Away as some kind of beautiful virtue that all women should aspire for, or that we seem somehow justifying the ever-fattening of our society by pleading for “fat acceptance” and talking about “weight discrimination,” instead of tackling both these problems in the education system.

Eating disorders, whether eating ourselves to morbidly obese deaths or wasting away via starvation, kill the soul long before they kill the self.

Kate Moss is famous for having said that nothing tastes as good as being thin feels. Really? She hasn’t had my chicken pot pie, man.

Life is meant to be lived — food savoured, bodies worshipped, comfort enjoyed.

Despite my strong beliefs on these issues, I will lose 30 pounds by next August. But I’ll do it still having beers and burgers, cheese and wine, because those are parts of life I should value too, and without guilt. The thing is? Food isn’t just about eating, it’s about who you’re eating with.

Food is community. Via community, food becomes communication. It’s about soul and companionship, slowing down and focusing on one thing in a moment in a big world. Food has always been the cornerstone to our societies — any society — and their social structure.

Because food and the celebration of it is so integral to our world — look at the dread of Christmas weight, because we all associate the treats with the warmth & glory of the season — people with these afflictions are robbed of much of life’s joy.

When someone suffers an eating disorder, it becomes toxic to every level of their life. They have to lie to loved ones, live duplicitously.  It kills the soul, then the self.

The tragedy here isn’t just that Brittany Murphy is dead.

The tragedy is, we all helped.

If you support the magazines and the industries pushing these unrealistic and perverted ideals of what “beauty” consists of, you’re helping to perpetuate this endless cycle of thin-is-not-thin-enough.

I haven’t bought a single beauty magazine in 10 years, and I’ve never seen obvious hot-chick-vehicle movies, so I know I’m not a part of this endless cycle of stupid. Are you?

Who else do I blame?


The guys I talk to claim they like “real” women. Oh? Well, Hollywood’s marketing this to you. Where’s your outcry? Where’s your steadfast roar about how great cushion-for-the-pushin’ is? Where’s your willingness to say outloud that a little extra somethin’-somethin’ works for you? Where’s your insistence that a size 10 is a perfect 10?

Because I’m not hearing it.

Instead of all this bullshit “Aww, Brittany, we hardly knew ye” in-mourning-platitudes crap we’ll be hearing for the next week, let’s get real, all right?

Yeah, Brittany, we knew you had an eating disorder. We tried to shame and mock you for it, instead of help you. We didn’t point fingers at the industry that helped make you fitted for a size extra-thin coffin in your 32nd year. We didn’t say to ourselves “Well, she’s not alone, maybe there’s something needing fixing here.”

Because though we’ve said all that shit before it’s obvious we never meant it, because the magazines keep selling, we keep buying, and thin girls keep dying.

Wake the fuck up, world.

8 thoughts on “Thoughts On Brittany Murphy, Death, & Anorexia

  1. @lynneux

    As soon as I heard Brittany had died this morning ‘anorexia’ was the first thing that came to mind. It’s sick and it’s sad, mostly because her condition was so painfully obvious.
    I exist at (literally) the other end of the scale, eating disorders-wise, and one thing you wrote really, really jumped out at me: “Eating disorders, whether eating ourselves to morbidly obese deaths or wasting away via starvation, kill the soul long before they kill the self.”
    Painfully true. Thanks for writing this, Steff.

  2. Marilyn

    Unfortunately for me I am on the obese side of the messed up eating scale. Having issues with food is such a shitty thing and yet it’s been part of who I am for so long I don’t know how to break out of it. The first thing I thought when I heard of Brittany Murphy this morning was anorexia too. Food issues are so tough to break and I can only imagine how hard it is when one lives in Hollywood.
    PS. I laughed out loud at this “Kate Moss is famous for having said that nothing tastes as good as being thin feels. Really? She hasn’t had my chicken pot pie, man.”

  3. Tanya

    Thank you for this much needed post. Our society is sickly indeed. We idealize many things that are awful. The media projects images that are simply unattainable. If you make people feel bad about themselves, you can sell them more crap that they don’t need. It’s funny how we look to the outside when we’re feeling bad on the inside. Maybe that’s the only thing that people feel like they have some sort of control over. If people feel awful about themselves, they will continue to search for that magic pill or product to put a band aid on their low self esteem. But a small bandage won’t fix a giant gaping wound. Garbage in equals garbage out. What we feed (or don’t feed) our bodies (AND minds) has a huge affect on us, mentally and physically. I agree that our society doesn’t have a healthy relationship with food as a whole. There is so much guilt surrounding food it’s no wonder people binge and purge. I say if someone feels like eating that cookie or donut, go for it. But don’t eat 10 of them. Making certain foods forbidden creates an unhealthy (and unrealistic) relationship with food. Also, I think that idealizing these stick thin, unattainable figures makes people feel desperate and more likely to binge. More than half of my female friends have at some point been bulimic or anorexic, or have had some sort of issue with food or weight. I say that we focus on feeling good, being healthy, and loving our bodies, flaws and all. Who decided that perfection is beauty? Also, who decided that being rail thin is perfection? And what happens when we reach that goal? Lose that 5 pounds? Are we happy then? My question is, if the things that we idealize, namely money and looks, don’t bring us happiness, then why is our whole society based on attaining these ideals? To me, that’s insanity.
    .-= Tanya´s last blog ..The Real Movember =-.

  4. Orlando

    Having struggled with weight my adult life, I realize it is a day to day challenge to stay healthy. For me there is a similarity to drug addiction. I lost a dear friend to heroin in 2007 and watched his slow demise. You can make improvements but fall back into old habits quick. Jamie really wanted to quit heroin; I wanted to stay healthy and we hoped to both reach these goals. I continue and keep him in my thoughts. For me the connection between exercise and weight and emotional health are clear. My thoughts are with Brittany Murphy and her family, they must go on through this tragedy.

  5. Tanya

    Wow Orlando. That must have been really tough losing your friend. It’s funny that you mention food addiction being like a drug addiction. I think it’s almost chemical. My brother has always been overweight, even as a baby, which must have been hard for him, because all of his siblings were skinny growing up. My mom said that he just wouldn’t get full when she was feeding him. He will always struggle with weight. He bikes everywhere, but always carries around at least 30 extra pounds. It doesn’t help that he was a chef for 3 years… Wow, can he cook!!! Anyways, I agree that the connection between exercise and emotional health is strong. Instead of going to the gym, I’ve been walking an hour a day now, because, well, I love it! The key for me in staying in shape has been to find an exercise that I love. I could walk for hours. My goal is to walk for an hour every morning, 5 days a week. Sometimes I don’t do it, but I have a reminder in my phone – “take care of yourself…” Whenever I hear that reminder go off, I remember that my physical and emotional health is a priority. Great post and thoughtful comments.
    .-= Tanya´s last blog ..The Real Movember =-.

  6. @karma_musings

    Steff – Yes. Just… yes.
    But of course, since there’s always more to say, your comments about where are the men, and why aren’t they talking to Hollywood, brought to mind a wonderful scene in the 1997 movie “In & Out”, where Matt Dillon, Hollywood golden boy who “accidentally” outs his former HS teacher, Kevin Kline, comes back to his hometown. He runs into his formerly “large” teacher Joan Cusack, who’s lost something like 75 #s, and in shock, says to her, “Miss Montgomery, what happened to you??? You used to be so beautiful!!” (This, after telling his incredibly anorexic Hollywood girlfriend “Just eat something!” in disgust, as he leaves her to go home.) One of the few times a movie character is written as appreciating “real” women… [all dialog paraphrased, but true to the sense of it]
    Sorry to go on. But thanks for this post.
    .-= @karma_musings´s last blog ..Changing the Choices =-.

Comments are closed.