Stigma In The Incredible Woman

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In the novel The Edible Woman, author Margaret Atwood tackles the difficult subject of anorexia nervosa. Although this subject is often handled with kid gloves by many writers, Atwood’s novel candidly addresses how different food related stigmas affect the main character’s day to day existence. In the late 1960 's, young women faced a society that expected them to conform to certain qualities in both appearance and demeanor. The portrayal of young women in popular movies, television and music of the time period led to internal conflicts among women who struggled to achieve the norm put forth by society. Young women everywhere were convinced they needed to look and act like Marcia Brady and turn into Carol Brady even if meant sacrificing their…show more content…
Though her outer appearance seemed content, the novel unfolds a bleak and unhappy life. All aspects of Marian’s life have fallen to the waste side and she has begun to work through the motions. Relationships, jobs, and friendships, makes Marian feel as if she is moving through thick uncontrollable mud. The lack of control that grows within Marian allows for space to develop the eating disorder that is the main focus of the entire novel. It begins with the stigma that food is something in which we examine under a fine tooth microscope.The disorder in which she portrays throughout the novel begins by cutting herself off from one food and continues to where all food repulses her. It is similar to that of pregnancy hormones. Her body rejects the smell,look and texture of certain foods, until she can eat nothing at all. Meat is the beginning of this disorder. This happens when she goes out to dinner with Peter, Ainsley, and Len. Peter orders a steak along with one for Marian. As he begins to cut into Marian visualizes the diagram of a planned cow that hangs in her office. She claims a dislike to the thought of animals being tortured and mistreated in order to be consumed and refuses to eat the cut of meat (Atwood). Next Marian cuts out vegetables during her engagement party. Finally, she cuts out sugary products by the end of the night. Marian confesses this illness to her friend, Clara, who assures her that these are just nerves for her upcoming
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