Had Anna Westin conquered her anorexia, would she be involved in wedding photography today? It’s quite possible, because Anna always had a special love for photography. Her passion was to display powerful posters in her room. She especially liked ones of The New Kids on the Block and of Kate Moss, the rail-skinny model. While the world saw Kate Moss as all skin and bones, to Anna she was the way women were supposed to look.
Anna’s parents established the Anna Westin Foundation to help people with eating disorders. The foundation concentrates on young girls, who are disproportionately afflicted with these disorders.
By 16, Anna had been diagnosed with full-blown anorexia. Her biggest fear in life was gaining weight, a fear so great it would lead her to suicide five years later. Anna, like all anorexia sufferers, had a distorted sense of body image. She weighed a mere 83 pounds, but refused treatment lest it lead to weight gain. Her suicide was her statement that the disease had won, and had robbed her life of all its joy.
This is a shame, because Anna would have found a lot of joy in wedding photography had her condition permitted. After all, a wedding is the ultimate joyful leap of faith, especially since one marriage in two ends in divorce, and the majority of cohabitators in the US are unmarried. Maybe the statistics will improve a little once gay marriages are allowed in all 50 states, but in general marriage has lost its luster for tens of millions of couples. Yet every weekend, thousands of couples get married across the nation, making their bets that they will defy the odds and have a successful marriage. Wedding photographers endeavor to give couples a good sendoff and a source of renewal whenever memories of the event turn a little hazy.
There is a shortage of good wedding photographers in many places around the country, so we could have used Anna and many like her to help fill the ranks. We’ll never know whether she had that special talent to take good pictures under very trying circumstances. Many people don’t realize how much anger and anxiety is displaced onto wedding photographers by up-tight brides. I don’t blame them – it is very nerve-wracking to get married! The chaos does not discriminate in the least – all religions, races, ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic conditions are represented by couples behaving excitedly on their wedding days. It’s a safe bet that had Anna been cured, she would have handled it all with a sense of assurance and grace.