Isla Cowan is a playwright and theatre-maker who suffered anorexia nervosa from the ages of 14 to 20. Though she is now classified as ‘recovered’, she says that intrusive negative thoughts about food and her body are still part of her normal everyday life. Isla has created Consumed, a new spoken-word audio piece addressing disordered eating.
Isla said: “Consumed is an audio work that explores the disorienting experience of eating disorder and the way in which negative, dangerous thoughts around food and the body are normalised in the media and in our society. Blending satirical sketches, details of eating disorder symptoms and statistics, and semi-confessional spoken word fragments, this audio piece delves into the messiness and complexity of connections between control, eating and the body.
“As well as navigating the all-consuming nature of negative body image, Consumed addresses the capitalist consumerism that paradoxically encourages ‘not consuming’ – encouraging dieting and weight loss – in order to sell products and make profit. I suffered anorexia nervosa as a teenager and am very lucky to be ‘recovered’, however, these thoughts still persist in day-to-day life, as they do for many people, fueled by depictions of ‘success’ and ‘perfection’ we see in the media. This is part of the normality of our society, one that is obsessed with body image and consumption. Eating disorders and body image issues manifest in different ways for different people. While a ten minute audio work could never fully explore all the potential experiences at play, I hope it will resonate with many.”
Content Note: This audio work explores eating disorders and body image.
Beat provides free helplines for adults and young people offering support and information about eating disorders. They are open 365 days a year, from 9am-8pm during the week and 4pm-8pm on weekends and bank holidays. Phone 0808 801 0677 (Helpline), 0800 801 0677 (Studentline), or 0808 801 0711 (Youthline), or visit their website for more information.