In looking at how artists have eating disorders, different phases of development emerge. Exploring the physicality of the disorder in the 1980s and 1990s, Vanalyne Green, Jana Sterbak, and Maureen Connor all focus on the extremely thin and ill female body for brief moments in their career. Later, in the 1990s and 2000s, Vanessa Beecroft and Liesbeth and Angelique Raeven, who produce work under the name L. A. Raeven have made artwork that intensely conveys the struggles with their various disorders. Making their experiences real, their painful work is often hard to witness. By exploring eating disorders in depth, these three artists move beyond the physicality of the disease, addressing the psychology as well. In the 2000s and 2010s, artists began exploring the causes of eating disorders as well as emphasizing recovery options.
Laia Abril herself suffered from bulimia, and in a series of three works, she confronts the personal sides of eating disorders—from private recollections to online communities to parental grief (A Bad Day, 2010; Thinspiration*Fanzine, 2013; The Epilogue, 2014). These works involve a distinct, individualized approach, in contrast to Ivonne Thein’s work Thirty-Two Kilos (2008), in which she digitally modifies already thin women in exaggerated model poses. The engagement and interaction these artists have with the Internet, importantly pro-anorexia and pro-bulimic websites, as well as the contents of these websites themselves, are also addressed in depth. By contrasting these different depictions, a complicated analysis regarding the way that these artworks potentially are perpetuating the disorders develops.