For almost thirty years, This American Life editor Susan Burton hid her obsession with food and the secret life of compulsive eating and starving that dominated her adolescence.
When journalist and editor Susan Burton was thirteen, her stable life in suburban Michigan was turned upside down by her parents’ abrupt divorce, and she moved to Colorado with her mother and sister. In the fallout from her parents’ breakup, an inherited fixation on thinness went from “peculiarity to pathology.”
She entered into a painful cycle of anorexia and binge eating that formed a subterranean layer to her sunny life. She went from success to success–she went to Yale, scored a dream job at a magazine right out of college, and married her college boyfriend. But in college the compulsive eating got worse–she’d binge, swear it would be the last time, and then, hours later, do it again–and after she graduated she descended into anorexia, her attempt to “quit food.”
Binge eating is more prevalent than anorexia or bulimia, but there is less research and little storytelling to help us understand it. Susan Burton is here to change that. She joins How To Academy to tell the story of living with both anorexia and binge-eating disorder – and how she moved past her shame and learned to tell her secret.
Praise for Susan Burton:
“Burton’s memoir is valuable because she goes beyond simply confessing her shame; she rakes herself over the coals, and in doing so she models how anger can be used to clarify a story. Her anger gives the book its considerable power, its substantial grace and even, in the end, its meaning. Her fury is like a flashing light in a cave, or a portal. The force of it makes us not just appreciate but actually feel the force that drove her to commit her actions in the first place. The result is a book that wields a fearsome intimacy.”–Claire Dederer, The New York Times
“Susan Burton’s Empty is by turns touching, frightening, fiercely candid, and beautifully written. In this story of a teenager’s furtive eating disorders, Burton has sidestepped the clichés, and captured the enigma of attempting to sate, by gluttony and starvation, our human vulnerabilities.”–Jill Ciment, author of The Body in Question
This event takes place at 6:30pm BST.
Note: The books will ship from the U.S. so they may take a bit longer than usual to reach you.