I was cleaning out my storage closet recently and found a few coffee-table books, collecting dust. They were bought on a whim years ago and I never really read them.
I decided to actually read/look at one of them!
This post will be discussing the book, Thin by Lauren Greenfield and giving my review on it.
About Lauren Greenfield and her Thin project
Lauren is a critically acclaimed photographer and filmmaker. She has created a few different photo books and documentaries. They all highlight, discuss and critique certain aspects of society.
Thin is one of her projects from 2006 and it focuses on eating disorders. The book and documentary take us inside an eating disorder treatment center called, Renfrew. From there, we get to see a glimpse of what goes on at these centers and the people they serve.
A little about the Renfrew centers
The very first Renfrew center started in 1985 and was located in Philadelphia, PA. It has since expanded its program reach with centers in Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Tennessee, Florida and New York.
These centers treat adolescent girls, women and non-binary people with eating disorders. The treatment is emotion-focused and is catered to each person.
There is outpatient, inpatient and day program options available. The daily services include art therapy, family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, nutritional therapy, exposure therapy and movement/drama therapy.
Each center is staffed with administrative personnel, psychologists, counselors, social workers, nurses, nutritionists and psychiatrists.
My thoughts on Thin
Wow! Everything about this book was haunting.
The pictures of the patients that were at the particular center, had such sad eyes. Their inner pain and strife were picked up so well by the camera. Although I am not sure if they could be hidden.
The stories and diary pages only added to the sadness. These people went through and were going through some really rough times. A couple of them claimed that they did not have much to go back to after leaving the program. Heart wrenching.
Lots of weights are thrown around in the book which could be a trigger for someone with an eating disorder past if they decided to read it. These numbers are scary to see in my opinion because I can not imagine how people must feel going through life weighing so little.
Some of the bodies of the patients at the facility were alarming to me. They look so incredibly frail and it is shocking. As tough as it is to look at, that is the reality of the disorder. It ravages a person mentally and physically.
Ages of the patients pictured, varies. The oldest person in the book is a 63 year old woman. It is upsetting to think that she was suffering for so long. This is a good reminder that it is not just a disorder that can affect young people-it can affect anyone.
Another thing I noticed relating to the age of the patients was that some of them had things like stuffed animals and other items that you would see little kids with. I got the sense that they were stuck at the young age that they were at when their eating disorder manifested.
I found it extremely interesting seeing the daily activities at the center. When a lot of people think of an eating disorder center, they may get an image of someone going in skinny and coming out healthy. This book shows that there is so much in between and that it is not magically over for them afterwards.
One thing that I thought about a lot when looking through the book was the cost of going there. I could not imagine it being affordable and from doing some research-it is not. To read about the patient’s families going bankrupt or losing insurance coverage is another terrible reality of the illness.
I (and many others) know that a lot of people go back to their eating disorder after discharge or recovery. It was still hard to see though that the four main patients profiled in the book lost a bunch of weight shortly after leaving the center.
A great look at mental health
Thin provides a powerful glimpse at a disorder with a high mortality rate. If you are into books about mental health, this may be a great one to get. A word of caution is for those that may be triggered by the images of people in the throes of eating disorders.
Have any of you read this book or seen the documentary? What are your thoughts on it?
Thanks for reading!
#anorexia #eatingdisorders #thinproject #renfrewcenter #documentaries #photojournalism #Laurengreenfield