Shortly after her fourteenth birthday, Hadley Freeman stopped eating. From the age of fourteen to seventeen, she lived in various psychiatric wards with a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.
Now, decades later, the award-winning Sunday Times columnist has written a book, Good Girls: A Story and Study of Anorexia, about her struggles with mental health and the insights she has gained. And in April 2023 she came to Intelligence Squared to address the complexities and misunderstandings surrounding anorexia. As she argued, it isn’t really about the food. It’s about the fear of becoming a woman; it’s about the belief that you are supposed to be perfect; and it’s about creating a new, smaller world which has one simple rule: don’t eat.
In conversation with journalist and author Bari Weiss, Freedman shared her message that the present doesn’t have to be a life sentence and that ultimately life can be enjoyed.