Cover image for Body story
Body story
De Pree, Julia Knowlton.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Athens, Ohio : Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
ix, 148 pages ; 23 cm
Body story -- Girl body -- Virgin body -- Starving body -- Wedding body -- Giving birth -- Blind spot.
Personal Subject:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RC552.A5 D43 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Something other than a memoir of a life well lived, Body Story conveys Julia K. De Pree's troubling journey from adolescence to adulthood and from anorexia to health.

For De Pree, between being a girl and being a woman, there was starvation. Body Story is her intimate account of girlhood, virginity, anorexia, and motherhood. De Pree's prose is spare and unguarded, revealing in vivid flashbacks and poignant vignettes the sources of her inner pain.

In high school, the five-foot-ten De Pree weighed as little as 114 pounds. She was too weak to raise her arms above her head. "In a paradoxical way, I starved my body in order to understand my life," she writes. "I had to place my body in suspension before I could move physically into sexuality. Starving allowed me to create an interim space between innocence and experience."

De Pree renders the starkness of anorexia along with the process of recovery, relapse, and, ultimately, redemption. She also tells the story of the physical landscape, from her origins in the Midwest to the American South, Paris, and the vast New Mexican desert, as well as the psychic landscape of her body as it encounters the joys and challenges of maturation, childbirth, and motherhood.

De Pree offers readers a new way of understanding women¿s bodily experience, as she writes about the mystery and the meaning of her illness. As many as eight million Americans suffer from eating disorders. Body Story, unlike clinical reports or news accounts, illuminates the complexity of anorexia as the narrative moves toward a subjective and deeply personal truth.

This evocative and often radiant vision is a unique window into womanhood and selfhood in middle-class, contemporary America.

Author Notes

Julia K. De Pree is an associate professor of French at Agnes Scott College in Altanta.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

De Pree's account of her life with anorexia might be characterized as a Sisyphean struggle to keep her body from weighing too heavily on the bathroom scale. She recollects an adolescence consumed with counting calories, early morning weight checks, and concealing her dangerously thin body from her parents. In poetically lean prose, she harks back to the midwestern, middle-class childhood that set the stage for developing emotional issues around food, body image, and sexuality. To begin with, her family idealized control--more specifically, self-control. Moreover, De Pree says that no one ever challenged the popular notion that a woman's appearance was an index of her worth. De Pree also describes several less-than-ideal early sexual images and intimate encounters, which left her unable to cope with her developing body. Despite all that and despite only recently connecting with a mental health professional who could help her in the long run, she managed enough temporary upturns to marry and bear two healthy children. --Donna Chavez Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

DePree, a poet and French professor at Atlanta's Agnes Scott College, has struggled with anorexia for most of her life. In this sensitive memoir, she describes her experiences with the disease and the related behavior patterns that have threatened to disrupt (sometimes successfully) her work and personal life. DePree's illness began at age 13, after her grandmother's death, and continued for nearly 20 years. Although she was an excellent student and skilled violinist in high school, her daily life was overshadowed by anorexia. Starving allowed me to create an interim space between innocence and experience, between being a girl and being a woman." DePree's difficulties continued when she left home for college and during her stints studying overseas. There were brief periods when she gained weight, but DePree was always aware she was hiding in a "glass box" in which she felt safe. Only after the birth of her second child in 1999 did she start undergoing psychoanalysis and taking medication, finally beginning to learn why she was so comfortable as an anorexic. Less graphic than other anorexic autobiographies, this memoir is nevertheless quite moving, thanks to DePree's eloquent writing. She focuses on her feelings, rather than chronicling her diet and exercise, which should help her work resonate with both readers familiar with anorexia and those helping anorexics. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Chapter 1 Body Storyp. 1
Chapter 2 Girl Bodyp. 9
Chapter 3 Virgin Bodyp. 21
Chapter 4 Starving Bodyp. 31
Chapter 5 Wedding Bodyp. 57
Chapter 6 Giving Birthp. 73
Chapter 7 Blind Spotp. 129