billkurtis2for those of you who don’t watch a&e like it is their lifeblood, bill kurtis is a guy (with a silky-smooth voice btw) who hosts and narrates a variety of crime-related shows on the friggin’ fantastic channel that rocks my world. i am currently obsessed with investigative reports (and have been since roughly 1995), where kurtis leads viewers through tales of intrigue and murder, often featuring the criminals and victim-families involved, that lend themselves to infuriating questions such as “should teens face the death penalty in murder cases?” i say infuriating because they take me back to high school when i would argue against the death penalty in opposition to all my classmates whose arguments were premised on seemingly biological categorizations of “goodness” and “badness.” in any case, i digress. in case you are not an avid watcher of all that is disturbing on television, a&e also has a program called intervention. intervention is a “reality show” that documents actual surprise interventions (the person who is being intervened upon agrees to participate in a documentary and then basically gets hijacked by their family with the help of an interventionist – for a synopsis look here) and, usually, the resultant recovery of the addicted person.

yesterday i was watching intervention when something in my stomach told me to stop. i didn’t. and then paid the price. the intervention was for allison – a young woman with a huffing dependency on computer duster (that she actually ingested – that is, blew directly into her mouth and lungs from.the.can) and who also was an anorexic cutter. in her both her sisters’ paraphrased words, allison is trying to kill herself as loudly as possible by inflicting physical pain on herself to demonstrate to her family and the world just how much pain she herself is in. usually, i get through an episode of intervention, having gone through the emotion of it, but satisfied with the recovery process and the epilogue that states the number of months the intervened has since been sober. allison has haunted me since and i think it has to do with a number of factors.

first, her youth. both her and her sister were young women, and very young when they were sexually abused (a reality that later resulted in all of allison’s addictions and problems). they were just regular girls, both hurt, and one hurt beyond recognition. second, her multiple addictions. i am not an expert in the field of anorexia, but i was recently reading about the advent of so-called “drunkorexics” who drink their calories instead of eat them. while this is a tenuous title, and one that many health experts might be wary of, it indicates the integrated nature of addiction – that anorexics often have substance abuse issues, and perhaps vice versa. and third, it makes me think about vancouver’s downtown eastside (dtes) and how all these issue coincide there: abuse and victimization, skeletally-thin addicted women (who i am not implying are anorexic, but are starving nonetheless), and just how easy it is – or would be for people like allison – to end up on the streets without caring people like her family, who of course, have to be in a position to be able to help. this post was originally intended to be about how the bodies of women in the dtes, those skeletal, emaciated bodies, ravaged with years of drug use and misuse by others, are actually held up as a beauty ideal in magazines (to make an obvious, if not disturbing, point). but instead, allison’s story, and damaged body, continues to haunt me, because it could have been me. it could have been any of us who someone decided to mistreat, in ways that are difficult to recover from.

i think it ultimately speaks to the correlation between treatment of our bodies and understandings of ourselves. and if one is too young to have autonomy over themselves and are mistreated, they will often mistreat themselves. a long time ago i was in a car accident and i was hospitalized for almost two months. at fourteen years old, my roommates fell into one of only three categories: anorexics and bulimics, cancer and accident patients, and suicides. i had one of each, although i got to know my roommate C., the best. she had survived not only rape, but her attempt to kill herself after that rape. i decided then, and was reminded now, that there is something wrong in a world where young women’s bodies are mistreated, by others, and themselves as a result of pain. pain over hurt, pain over not being perfect, pain over not being enough. it is often said that young girls live in a scary world, and they should be protected. but i am going to suggest that young women are the real survivors. they are the ones who have to contend with a world that denies them autonomy, and then asks them to apologize.

as you can see, i need my own intervention. an intervention to not watch intervention.

oh. and i’d like bill kurtis to host it.