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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Pro Ana movement

Ok, when i first heard about the Pro-Ana (Anorexia) movement from a friend of mine a few months ago, i shrugged it off as something that's unbelieveable and ludicrous. As someone who knew and dated girls who had eating disorders ( side effects of knowing sorrority girls), i know how bad it gets for them and how hard it is for them to stop throwing up or not eating in order to get/ remain "thin". Hell, i know a bulemic girl who, in order to stop herself from purging, started doing coke so that she wouldn't eat. That was her own personal way of beating her Bulemia, and not only did it not work, it got her addicted to coke as well. So you can understand my reaction, when i read on yahoo news today , that not only the Pro-Ana movement is not a joke, and it's actually attracting followers. Followers include young women and teens who wear red Ana bracelets and offer one another encouraging words of "thinspiration" on Web pages and blogs. For an example of "Thinspiration", Go here! They share tips for shedding pounds and faithfully report their "cw" and "gw" — current weight and goal weight, which often falls into the double digits. The movement has flourished on the Web and eating disorder experts say that, despite attempts to limit Ana's online presence, it has now grown to include followers — many of them young — in many parts of the world. Hell, they even devised a philosophy for it! She and others point to the "Ana creed," a litany of beliefs about control and starvation, that appears on many Web sites and blogs. At least one site encourages followers to make a vow to Ana and sign it in blood. The Ana creed, which i found at this website, goes like this:

Ana Creed
Thin is beauty; therefore I must be thin, and remain thin, If I wish to be loved.
Food is my ultimate enemy. I may look, and I may smell, but I may not touch! I must think about food every second of every minute of every hour of every day... and ways to avoid eating it. I must weigh myself, first thing, every morning, and keep that number in mind throughout the remainder of that day. Should that number be greater than it was the day before, I must fast that entire day. I shall not be tempted by the enemy (food), and I shall not give into temptation should it arise. Should I be in such a weakened state and I should cave, I will feel guilty and punish myself accordingly, for I have failed her. I will be thin, at all costs. It is the most important thing; nothing else matters. I will devote myself to Ana. She will be with me where ever I go, keeping me in line. No one else matters; she is the only one who cares about me and who understands me. I will honor Her and make Her proud.
You know, there was this girl i knew, who belonged to a Pentcostal church that believed that Anorexia and Bulemia are not diseases as much as they were demons that possess people, who can be healed from them by a proper exorcism or Baptism of the holy spirit. The girl not only believed that, but also believed that the same was true about homosexuality, because apparently she was a lesbian before her Holy spirit baptism and now she is "cured", provided that she doesn't see her ex-girlfriend, whom she still has feelings for, you know, despite being cured and all. I naturally used to tune her out, but now, reading that Ana's creed, i wonder if she was on to something when it came to the demonic nature of eating disorders. This reads like an incantation or a personal prayer, and if we were in Inquisition time, this probably would be grounds for an Idolatry charge and would start a little barbeque where those girls would be the meat. But here is the issue: I know that having those websites is dangerous, and that anorexia should not be encouraged, But... But i can't help but think that this is a personal choice that some people take and that we , while necessarily not have to respect it , might have to tolerate or at the very least no censor. It seems hardly unfair to point out at Pro- Ana websites and chastize them, while Obesity is far more rampant and kills far more people. We can't tell people they can't be too skinny and allow others to be too fat. I mean Fat people have their own support system too: Fast Food TV commercials, Cooking programs , hell, there is even the Food network, which must be the equivelant of the Playboy channel in Ethiopia and North Korea. And on the other hand, i don't want those things gone: I like My burgers to be big, fatty and greasy, thank you very much; and i hate it when anyone wants to inform me "How bad it is" for me, you know? I can't help but think that this is exactly how they feel about their food choices, with the difference that they are on the other side of the spectrum. If anything, the distance between too skinny and healthy is probably far shorter then too fat and healthy, right? I don't know, but even taking the "personal responsbility/life choice" angle, i still feel hugely uncomfortable about those Ana-followers. Maybe it's the fact that being overweight kills you on a much longer timespan then being anorexic does. Maybe it's the fact that the majority of anorexic girls are just that, young girls, who are easily influenced due to their young age and low/lack of self-esteem. Or maybe it's the fact that no overweight person i know is actually proud of being overweight to the degree that he/she developed a creed for it, but rather most of them are looking for ways to lose weight. I don't know which it is, maybe it's all three, maybe it's none of them. All i know is that this Ana worship thing really disturbs me. What do you think?


At 6/01/2005 08:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've known some anorexic/bulimic people. It seems like a miserable way to live. It's like pegging one currency to another. They peg their happiness to how thin they are, and because they will never, ever think they are thin enough (even when they look like Skeletor), they are never happy.

More and more anorexia and bulimia are considered phycolgical disorders, which makes sense if you know anyone who has it. It's totally consuming - all they talk about and think about. And any concern is met with defensiveness.

What I realized was that short of a full-on AA-style intervention, the best way to try to help them is to live a healthy, normal life, and try to demonstrate, without preaching, that happiness doesn't have to do with how much you weigh.

Something creepy: They'll consider these diseases to be good, and call them Ana and Mia, as if they're friends.


At 6/01/2005 08:52:00 AM, Blogger Rancher said...

Alcoholism is also a choice and gets a lot of support from High School kids on up. I think this is sick, but freedom can be a two edged sword. I can only hope these kids grow out of this.

At 6/01/2005 09:46:00 AM, Anonymous Me, Myself and I said...

hey reading this and looking at the site was sooooooooo depressing..but i was there..for a short while myself, years ago when i was in my early twenties going through grad school..now i am "fat" and happy, with inner peace and I do not give a F attitude (do these conflicting attibutes get along or is this what i want to believe) anyway, i remember spending hours and hours counting calories, thinking of the cookie that i ate four days ealier, feeling proud that my hip bone was once checked at the airport mistaken for a weapon..don't really know how i got there...neither do i recall what got me out of there...could have been the age, could have been low self esteem (do not recall this either..always had a decent self esteem but sans ego) could be the guys-yeah-blame it on them..that set the bar...whatever...I am happy that i am not using my precious brains cells counting calories and worried about the cookie..but i'd sure would love to lose some of my baby fat..even though some like...It was a tense time in my life.

At 6/01/2005 10:43:00 AM, Blogger CEP said...

I knew a girl in high school who starved herself down to 69 pounds (she was over 5 feet tall). She looked like a concentration camp inmate, no exaggeration. Finally her family started weighing her every morning and badgering her to eat a little bit more. This may not have worked, but then she got interested in running. To have muscle to run, you've got to eat, so she started eating healthly. Ten years later (we're still friends), she's trim (but not painfully skinny), she eats well--a lot, and healthy stuff--and then she runs up to eight miles a day. I'd much rather have her addicted to exercise than thinness. And exercise (which I don't do much of myself!) has all those endorphins associated with it, which do wonders for the attitude.

At 6/01/2005 03:16:00 PM, Anonymous mostafa said...

This is a very interesting topic and many people are blogging about it of late.

thanks for bringing this to our attention SM.

At 6/01/2005 04:45:00 PM, Blogger luckent47 said...

i lived with a young lady that was a/b-ic. i tried as much as could to help her out but in the end it was all about her. the part that freaked me out was how much encouragement she got from other women. one time i took her to the er and the nurse started yapping with her about how good she looked and wether she modeled etc and then i walked into the room and blew up very loudly.

its a combination of homo clothing designers, evil women and their daughters, girls that will never grow up, and perverted men that think women are things.

the part that people can't admit is that theyre in on it. i took her to some meeting at beaumont hosp.in detroit and sitting in the rooms with the girls and their parents was creepy as all get out.

i used to think women were sane until i went through that hell.
if i even hear a woman start talking about weight arouond me i go ballistic on them and any of their family.

she's dead,but she looks so great...

At 6/01/2005 06:43:00 PM, Blogger Tina said...

They can get to a point where the damage to the body and brain is irrepairable. I think it is far more dangerous than being overweight.

The problems with both is an unhealthy relationship with food. Food is to nourish the body, nothing else. It's not a friend and it's not an enemy, it's just food.

At 6/01/2005 10:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sandmonkey, you need to check out the June issue of Atlantic. They interviewed Saddams head lawyer and he is crazy. The lawyer is Ziad al-Khasawneh and he is probably not fit to represent the Butcher of Baghdad.

At 6/03/2005 03:41:00 PM, Anonymous Dee said...

you have no idea what its like for these girls. im not pro ana/mia. but i guess im not totally against it either. i just think they should know all the consequences, and if theyr willing to take their chances anyway, then so be it. its their choice. its their life.
its really, REALLY hard being a girl with low/no self esteem. especially when everyone around you seems to be judging you based on what you look like. you do it, i do it, everyone does it(even those who claim they dont), if only a little bit, if only for a couple of seconds.its true! and we all know nobody likes a fat chick. and the whole 'its what's inside that counts' crap just doesnt do it. lets face it, nobody cares whats inside if they dont like whats outside.

At 6/10/2005 06:02:00 PM, Blogger FLORA said...

I utterly disagree with Dee.
There really are people out there who do not judge on looks, or care about weight. I have heavy friends and I sorrow at thier pain. Or society is shallow, and cruel. But never as cruel as just having to carry around all the extra weight, not get to do things you want to do, wear what you like, and ultimately, the way your esophagus starts to colapse as you sleep from the fat pressing in from all sides. OTOH...My sister was a runway model. She was the Diet Czar for her agency, and all girls with a "problem" with thier weight had to live with her. She managed them down to where the "problem" was an issue no more. It was gross. She was 20.

Now thirty, she is a different creature. No longer fresh faced, she looks older than me, and I am 5 years her elder. She is gaunt. Looks like an addict. Probably is one. Every focus in her life is on the external, and focussed wholly on HER. She is too selfish to even keep a cat or a dog, because they have NEEDS! She is lonely, sad, and pathetic. The rock stars never call her anymore. She is forgotten by the rich men she snubbed for daring to think she wanted marriage from them.

There is so much more to life. Every year I say a prayer as i eat my first peach, first apple, first strawberry of their respective seasons. Everything is a gift that must be used wisely.

Food. Good looks. Charm. Womanly kindness and Manly devotion. All can be perverted and misused. Its up to us to say "No," and walk the path of moderation. We may slip, but dont have to stay down.

Luckent47, you are a decent soul for supporting your friend.


At 6/13/2005 09:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spent 6 years in the throes of bulimia/anorexia, and always used to use those websites for triggers, so from that aspect you can say its rubbish that they encourage people not to get help because i got better whilst using these to find a support base. quite simply you can talk to thers who understand and that is the main lure. when you go to recovery sites you cant be graphic and explain how much you just ate, how you purged and how your scared cos your hearts skippint and visions blurry, in case it triggers others on the sites. On the other hand most of these sites are written by people who have very tough lives even w/out the ed, and i now find myself wishing i could talk to them and tell them its ok to not want to recover just yet, but that no matter how bad it is, it can be done. Eating disorders are extremely effective methods of coping with immense pain... until the pain of the ed becomes greater than the pain you are trying to run from you cant recover. some people never get there.

At 6/20/2005 08:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These people are cultivating mental illness as a subculture/lifestyle, and I seriously doubt anyone who really suffered from these compulsions would take this attitude. It sounds like more stupid teenage girl "oh, poor sensitive me" garbage. That being said, I hope they get smart before they assume room temperature.

The demon parallel occured to me too, but again, it smacks of more teenage girl manipulation, this time aimed at freaking out the Pentecostals. Wouldn't surprise me at all if a lot of these girls come from/are rebelling against extremely religious backgrounds, and know what buttons to push.

At 7/06/2005 02:04:00 PM, Anonymous angie said...

I was dangerously anorexic and bulimic for a few years, and I thought I completely recovered. Lately, however, I have been turning to pro-ana/mia sites for some motivation to lose some weight and get in shape. The result: I'm right back where I started, but this time I'm not scared.

I fully support the pro-ana/mia "movement." Why do I do it? Because I want to be beautiful, like Adriana Lima or Carmen Electra or Jessica Simpson.
There's too much tough competition out there; I want my boyfriend to look at ME and think I'M the most beautiful girl in the world, not the celebrities, who are ana and mia as well.

At 11/10/2005 06:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that every teenaged girl has atleast thought about ana/mia before but the ones who actually have it...well there is no return. There is recovery but there is also relapse. It is an addiction. Ive been in recovery from ana for about a year after an 8 year struggel 2 hospital stays and countless hours of therapy i got better. I take it day by day and i threw out my scale,my sister is my sponcer,and while i still struggel from time to time i think about what a doctor said to me once. do you want to spend the rest of your life climbing a latter thats up aginst the wrong wall

At 12/15/2005 08:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know u probably wont read mine, as its is so far down the page, but i am bulimic. I have been on ana/mia sites and I can't say at all that i agree with the 'ana' worship. but what i like about those websites is that they are places where i can be myself and nobody will judge me. because everyone there is just like me.

I know that im stuck in a downward sprial, and that it is so hard to get out, and i dont think that anyone can appreciate that unless they have ever been bulimic or anorexic. I think that the reasons for people being ana/mia are very often misread by others, in most cases, it is not a want to be like the people on the tv etc. It is a plea for attention or a need of control, which is what it is in my case.

Being bulemic is like being a living dead, it's hell, and i wish that i could only turn back time, and change my thoughts the very day i because bulemic. What is stopping me fighting it is that i know that even if i do stop throwing up, i will be bulemic forever, the constant thoughts of food will never leave me.

Doing something about it is not as easy as people think, even after nearly dying from a throat infection caused by bulemia, it's still a challenge, mainly coz no1 knowsthat the throat infection was caused by bulemia, but i do.

Back to the point, i don't think that 'ana' worship is right at all, being a devout christian, it freaks me out. But those sites are the only place i can be the real ME.

At 12/23/2005 05:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In reply to Anonymous:
We today live in a world that cannot feed its numerous billion citizens, a world obsessed with Capitalism, Commercial Gain, Violence, Reality Television and the Nuclear bomb, a world that has committed itself to an eternal war on terrorism while doing diddly squat about global warming and complaining about younger generations and blaming the desensitization and disillusionment of said youth on anyone but themselves. Looking at this attitude, one can find apt reasons for desensitization and disillusionment abound.
We as younger generations are looking internally to find problems. Be they physical or psychological, we all have a Problem. All have something wrong with us. Hey - it's human nature. But younger generations are taking it to the extreme. Others don't understand. Can't possibly, because they 'believe in hell, because I sometimes think that I'm living in it', to quote the Ana Creed. And don't get me wrong - I'm against censorship. I believe everyone has a right to say whatever the hell they like. However, I a having my own whine - yet mine is about society itself.
First, anonymous begins by telling us that 'i know u probably wont read mine, as its is so far down the page, but i am bulimic'. She, (I'm assuming gender here) announces the fact as if she is not worthy/likely to gain attention from others, then announces her Problem. pro-ana websites 'are places where i can be myself and nobody will judge me. because everyone there is just like me,' and 'I know that im stuck in a downward sprial, and that it is so hard to get out, and i dont think that anyone can appreciate that unless they have ever been bulimic or anorexic.'
Of course not. Because we're all too blissfully ignorant to care, right? Or is it because Anonymous feels she is unworthy of understanding?
She goes on to say: 'Being bulemic is like being a living dead, it's hell, and i wish that i could only turn back time, and change my thoughts the very day i because bulemic. What is stopping me fighting it is that i know that even if i do stop throwing up, i will be bulemic forever, the constant thoughts of food will never leave me.'
Well, with that attitude, go and not-eat your celery sticks in peace. Because nothing/no-one can ever help you, of course. Because your life is a living hell, and you don't deserve it.
Furthermore, as a medical student, I can tell you that it would be obvious to any medical practitioner the cause of such a severe throat infection. After all, you 'nearly died' from it. Such a serious problem would definitely warrant the attention of such a practitioner and, as I assume you are not over the age of seventeen, parents/guardians legally have to be informed, and I highly doubt that no-one knows the cause of your throat infection, providing it did in fact occur.
So you may understand why I remain ever a skeptic.
Feel free to flame.

At 3/06/2006 08:53:00 PM, Anonymous marianne said...

Because I myself am anorexic/bulemic, I appreciate what you have written. I feel as if people think we have a problem with dieting, and nothing more. It's a disease I can't stop, and runs deep with emotion. I just want to thank you for having intelligence mixed in with your perspective. Most just look at the surface, judge quickly, and assume they're right. It's very lonely, and VERY painful. That's all I have to say.

At 1/27/2007 01:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this comment comes a long time after your article was written, but I could not help, but to read it and the comments. I was nothing shy of disappointed. First of all, clearly you did very little research because that is NOT the ana creed!
Seccondly your opinion is clearly biased and uneducated. If you knew anything you would know that this IS A MENTAL ILLNESS.
Many people syruggle with this for years. They are in and out of recovery. Many people want to get better, but unfortunatly they are tortured with bad boy image. You may look into the mirror and see the same person looking back, but a person with and ED looks into the mirror and it is like they are at the carnival or the fair and stepped into a funhouse. They are looking into a distorted mirror. Or maybe they just want to improve one part of their body and are focused on it. The only way for them to do that is constant dieting or a binge and purge cycle, but in the process you lose weight all over.
Not all ANA sites are "Pro-ANA", some are more of a support system or retreat from people like you that judge and point the finger!
Next time, do a little more research before you start typing.


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