Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

“It was called hunger when we were young”: Joan Bakewell sparks outrage with comments on 'narcissistic' anorexia

rexfeatures_1455991k.jpg

Broadcaster Joan Bakewell sparked outrage yesterday with a series of comments about eating disorders.

The 82-year-old Labour peer said anorexia was "called hunger when we were young. You sat and ate until your plate was clean." She also described eating disorders as stemming from "narcissism" and "overindulgence".

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Bakewell said, "I am alarmed 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."

anorexia

Bakewell is chair of the judging panel for the Wellcome Book Prize, the UK's leading prize for medical, health and illness books.

She continued, "To be unhappy because you are the wrong weight is a sign of the overindulgence of our society, over-introspection, narcissism, really."

Her comments caused a huge reaction on Twitter, with users taking to the social media site to slam Bakewell's lack of understanding of eating disorders.

Representatives from anorexia charities were also quick to criticise Bakewell's comments, with Jane Smith, chief executive of the charity Anorexia and Bulimia Care, describing them as “uninformed".

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Smith said, "Although I welcome informed debate on this subject, I am disappointed that people still feel able to suggest a sweeping generalization, without fact, which perpetuates the misconceptions about eating disorders, thereby limiting the understanding for those struggling."

The number of teenagers with eating disorders being admitted to hospital almost doubling in the last three years.

Kate Nightingale, head of communications at mental health charity Time to Change, voiced her concern to The Daily Telegraph.

She said, “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.”

anorexia

Bakewell herself initially took to Twitter to say, "I've stirred a public debate about anorexia... Good."

However, she soon apologised for the comments and said last night that she was "deeply sorry".

Related

anxious child.jpg

“My childhood anxiety went untreated - and I'm still dealing with it”

anna wyatt.JPG

The random act of kindness that helped this woman overcome anorexia

amalie lee instagram recovery.JPG

Woman documents her recovery from anorexia on Instagram

emma watson heforshe gender equality speech forest whitaker arts week.jpg

‘Photographers laid on the pavement and took photographs up my skirt’

daisy ridley.jpg

Daisy Ridley responds to body shamers on Instagram

Alice_166.jpg

“How my battle with cancer transformed my body confidence”

12745951_10208899146341904_887766559090185939_n.jpg

Mum uses lingerie model to shut down breastfeeding complaints

rexfeatures_5231368cq.jpg

Cara Delevingne pens open letter on success and happiness

nat geo penguin

Penguin swims 5,000 miles a year to visit the man who saved his life

Comments

More

Witches are casting a spell on Donald Trump at midnight tonight

It’s set to be “the largest mass binding spell in history”.

by Moya Crockett
24 Feb 2017

This new yoga class is all about the healing power of gin

Empty your mind… and your glass

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Best friends build community of tiny houses so they can live together

Welcome to bestie row…

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Behold Ikea's incredible flat-pack indoor garden

Bring the outdoors in

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Feb 2017

Successful women “give up” on the idea of work-life balance, says CEO

Grace Bonney, founder of DesignSponge, says that the idea of a work-life balance is “not rooted in reality”.

by Moya Crockett
24 Feb 2017

Woman becomes internet sensation for documenting life as a third wheel

"Love makes the world go round. Unless you're me."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Feb 2017

First Dates is offering us all free food to sit in the background

Couples and singles can both apply

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

The Netflix gems to binge-watch based on your favourite TV shows

These are the unmissable Netflix TV shows you need to know about...

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Inside Nepal’s forced marriage revolt

When love and tradition collide

by Corinne Redfern
23 Feb 2017

Demi Lovato on her mental health documentary: “I’m bipolar and proud”

The singer opened up about her new mental illness documentary to Ellen DeGeneres.

by Moya Crockett
23 Feb 2017