Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield

Tyranny is a graphic novel by artist Lesley Fairfield which explores the struggle of a young woman as she develops an eating disorder. We follow Anna as she enters puberty and begins to feel she is too fat because of the changes her body is experiencing. Her dreams and excitement over the potential of her young life begin to fade as she is consumed by a fear of eating and becoming fat.Anna states

"I felt trapped inside my new body. My imagination worked overtime, and before long, I was tormented and miserable! I was desperate to have my younger body back."

So Anna decides to diet and lose weight. which she does remarkably well. But she can never be quite thin enough. Food is her enemy that will make her fat and ugly. Anna begins to spiral faster and faster into behaviours that are harmful. She weighs herself several times a day, and calorie count, and finds that she is no longer able to eat at all. Soon she becomes too sick to attend high school, drops out and gets her own apartment when her relationship with her parents breaks down. At first things seem to be fine but Anna's eating disorder gets worse. She has no energy to keep a job and becomes physically ill. She ends up in hospital and under the care of a psychiatrist.

Eventually she gets another job and meets some new friends one of which she becomes close to. That girl also has an eating disorder. However, when a tragic event occurs, Anna realizes that she can no longer cope on her own and that she wants her life back. Anna decides she wants to live. She goes into treatment and discovers that she can deal with Tyranny. She learns to claim her thoughts, and to discover who she really is! She begins to fight for her life and for who she really is.

Tyranny is her alter ego, the fear behind her eating disorder, the demon that pushes her to stop eating. Anna learns to confront Tyranny, control her and ultimately banish her. Her life no longer belongs to fear and to Tyranny.

This book is a beautiful concept about a terrible illness, written by a woman who has struggled with an eating disorder for thirty years. Lesley Fairfield's unique illustrations aptly show the dysmorphia that Anna has. This distortion is also reflected in the image of Tyranny.

Eating disorders are the bane of many young women today given the cultural climate of perfection presented in advertising and entertainment. It was my children who have made me realize just how desensitized we can be to this. Every ad showing a woman's body is that of apparent perfection but is in reality a huge distortion of what women actually look like. It is not only models that are part of this myth but also any actress or performer who allows their image to be photoshopped.

This book is a must for all young adult collections.

Book Details:
Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield
Toronto: Tundra Books 2009
114 pp.

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