PORTRAITS OF LEILA
I got to capture my friend who has been dealing with anorexia for the past couple of years. These portraits document the end of this ‘pain-in-the-ass’ time, yet also are symbolic for a new start, a new day.
The photos were taken on a very early July morning in her apartment in Zürich Seefeld. They are meant to go with an article on Leila herself wrote on her experiences with an eating disorder. The full article is linked below on FEMELLE but you will find short excerpts between the portraits as well.
It was an honor being the one capturing her that very morning and I’m immensely proud and touched by her strength, her story and her will to talk about this topic to further on educate people on issues like this.
“…She sneaks up, like a Snake, from behind, very slowly and before you even know it, she has you in a stranglehold. Escape seems impossible. I was barely 18 when she came sneaking up on me. At a time when I was somewhere with my feet, just not really steady on the ground. Found prey for the Snake. I did not quite know what I wanted, who I was and where I belonged - all I knew was that I was now officially considered an adult. And as an adult woman I had to have stability - control, discipline! So I started with what was the closest to me. My body…”
”...First, the portions get smaller, healthier - just as you’d eat as a down to earth, healthy, adult woman. Chips and coke were banned from the menu. Everything green and tasteless landed on my plate. That went on about one, two months. My body began to pour out a lot of adrenaline through hunger - a kick that you do not want to miss. And as with any kind of addiction - and yes, anorexia works just like any other addiction - you lose control. Incidentally, in technical language this is called “loss of cognitive control over one's own nutritional needs”. But in my opinion you lose a lot more..”
“…My head started shutting off any needs. Sex, hunger, affection, emotions - I did not need anything anymore. My strong empathy was fucked - it only worked with a lot of concentration, my eyes were as empty as my head. Everything my brain could collect energy for, with the few carrots a day and the holy yoghurt to eat, was all around food. Pretty crazy the whole thing. You deal excessively with your biggest enemy at all time. But the worst thing was when the demons really owned me. Mostly when I had to eat in company, with people very close to me…”