The Girls Who Do Not Eat: Food, Hunger, and Thinness in Meg Rosoff’s <em>How I Live Now</em> and Laurie Halse Anderson’s <em>Wintergirls</em>
Critics have suggested that anorexia occurs frequently among middle-class and upper-middle-class adolescent girls. Going through a crucial stage of their development, they starve themselves voluntarily in times of plenty amid societal pressures to be thin. Published in the last decade, the two novels examined here serve as a locus for an analysis of this increasingly prevailing phenomenon and its connection to current social conditions. Drawing on food studies and on existing research on anorexia, this paper explores the significance of food, hunger, and thinness in both novels. Through its depiction of the protagonist’s experiences of genuine hunger and wartime scarcity, Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now urges a re-evaluation of familiar experiences of food and the prevailing views of thinness that are broadly accepted in societies of abundance. Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls presents a remarkable insight into a culture that encourages consumption and praises weight loss, revealing a pressing need for reform of both notions.