Tyranny - I keep you thin by Lesley Fairfield

cover image

Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 9781406331134.
Graphic novel, 120 pages. Much has been written about anorexia and bulimia, however this little graphic novel seems to deliver fresh insight into one person's struggle with these eating disorders. Anna finds puberty a distressing time as her breasts grow and her body changes. Then she finds that she can slow the 'rounding out' of her body by dieting, thus regaining some control. Her perception that this thin self is desirable is reinforced by media images and the comments of her peers. Fashions fit and she feels pretty, her boyfriend finds her attractive so thin must be good. Somewhere within these feelings, common to those many adolescent girls experience, things go wrong. The association in Anna's mind, that dieting equates with control of her life means that she can't give it up. Outside messages don't get through and the side of her that represents this control manifests itself as Tyranny, who keeps her thin. The author's graphic design skills and personal experience with this eating disorder mean the deceptively simple cartoon images deliver a convincing message with consistent characterisation. The images of Anna's increasing emaciation dispel any illusion that thinness is glamorous. Her controlling demon, the dynamic yet skeletal Tyranny is a very strong force and overcoming it in the end is less convincing. Still it is a great little book, accessible to many readers, and recommended for middle to upper secondary students, especially girls. The only real reservation is that the publisher has rendered the text so thin as to be barely legible.
Sue Speck