In her essay Gaze, Heather Purlett writes about the impact of diet culture and the fetishisation of the perfect body on vulnerable teens from a deeply personal perspective. Nothing has changed since she was a teenager: we still idolise particular body types, push unhealthy and dangerous diets, and now, more than before, surgical adjustments to better fit an impossible ideal.
We love her sharp commentary on how it affected her as a young adult, and how generations before us model unhealthy attitudes to our bodies - dislike and discomfort in our own skin is almost inescapable.
Heather Purlett is studying psychology and has an inordinate love of tea. This is her first publication.
What made you decide to write specifically for KIUW? What has your writing journey been like so far?
I heard about the call for submissions through the newsletter. I had read vol. 2 of KIUW about sex and loved the raw honesty, the personal stories blending humour, grief and vulnerability.
How does the process of digging up (sometimes) difficult memories go for you? How did you access those events in your life that you write about in your essay?
Those memories were easy to access, because the subject makes me angry and driven to act. Diet culture is bullshit and eating disorders claim lives. Writing this piece was the least I could do.
What’s your ideal writing environment?
A sort of Goldilocks environment: not too quiet, not too loud; not too bare, not too cluttered, and with natural light. Ideally, a library or a not too busy cafe.