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

Holiday hack gets you 18 days off work in a row, using just 9 days

And for our next trick we’ll turn 9 days of annual leave into 18…

by Kayleigh Dray
07 Dec 2016

Say hello to London’s first ever vegan fried chicken shop

Sounds impossible, is actually genius.

by Amy Lewis
07 Dec 2016

Revealed: the 25 best companies to work for in 2017

Time to brush up on your CV?

by Sarah Biddlecombe
07 Dec 2016

13 white wines that aren't Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc

Sick of the usual suspects?

by Victoria Gray
07 Dec 2016

You need to watch this unlikely Christmas advert hit

We’re not crying, we just have something in our eye…

by Kayleigh Dray
07 Dec 2016

Your new £5 note might be worth £50,000 if it has this secret doodle

There are four notes in circulation with a tiny hidden addition

by Amy Swales
07 Dec 2016

Son shares mum's struggle to sell crafts: Twitter comes to the rescue

This may restore (some of) your faith in 2016.

by Amy Lewis
06 Dec 2016

The Great Christmas Bake Off: The eight contestants making a comeback

The Great Christmas Bake Off is reuniting all our old faves…

by Kayleigh Dray
06 Dec 2016

Often dream about missing a plane or a train? Here’s what it means

It’s not as bad as you think.

by Moya Crockett
06 Dec 2016

First Dates fans couldn’t stop laughing at this faux pas last night

Well, that was awkward…

by Kayleigh Dray
06 Dec 2016