Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Ana Writes Us a Letter

The other day when I was discussing subjects for this blog project with my mom, she brought up that she had heard about a new on-line phenomenon of a growing pro-Anorexia subculture. I was considering using Anorexia as a topic for this blog project as we were encouraged to write about something we were familiar with. The idea of pro-Anorexia websites at first shocked me, but then it made perfect sense. Anorexics are usually in such denial about their disease that they believe their behaviors and ideas about food and body image are reasonable.

I was interested in what the girls (it is primarily girls) who setup these websites would have to say in defense of the disease they affectionately refer to as Ana. On one website titled "Starving for Perfection,"<http://lookingglasssupport.com/StarvingForPerfection/Ana/AnaIndex.html > was obvious that the author was delusional and hanging on to her delusions with all her depleted strength. At the same time, the site took me back to the time about five years ago when I took the same delusions to be gospel.

In " A Letter From Ana," a section of the Starving for Perfection blog, the author personifies her disease. Actually she makes Ana seem like a god who can aontrol your mind. Even though this was written on a pro-Ana site, it would be very for any healthy individual to read this letter and think, "wow, I really wish I had anorexia." It begins by describing how you have become " a fat lazy, and undeserving girl." Then it goes on to explain how Ana is going to change all of that by taking over your life and dictating what you do. She will teach you how to eat (or not eat), how to purge if you "cheat" and how to fool your family and friends into thinking nothing is wrong. As far as higher powers go, Ana seems very vengeful and cruel.

The letter from Ana was a very accurate description of what anorexia is in the mind. It is not glamorous at all. The letter describes how anorexia becomes your only friend and becomes important over everything. Even though a healthy person would read this letter and think, "how disturbing and horrible," I can see how a girl with anorexia or on the verge of having it could be comforted. Anorexic girls often feel as though they've lost all sense of control in their lives, and Ana promises to control everything for them. She promises to make them forget all their emotional issues involving other people, because all of their energy will be focused on food and excercise. All of these things are true, but she fails to mention all the horrible suffering Ana will no doubt bring along with her.

There is nothing on this entire site about how, even in the summertime, a starving girl will always be cold, always. It is not the surface level cold that you could put on a sweater and be done with, but a cold that penetrates your bones. Ana doesn't mention that after a couple weeks of not eating, you will not be able to sleep but will lay awake all night feeling your bony knees knocking together, awaiting another day of starvation. Ana doesn't say anything about how her tips for fooling people will work for about a month, and then everyone you know will begin harassing you about eating or, even worse, talking about you behind your back because you look horrible.

I have been in recovery from anorexia for years, but this website and all the pro- Ana websites I've seen so far bring up all the psychoses I had regarding food. Intellectually, I can see how sick these people are, but part of me is thinking, "wow I am fat and disgusting. I should stop eating." These websites give me the desire to be part of their club again. If they have the power to activate my disfunctional thought like that as a recovering girl, I can only imagine the effect they have on people who are currently suffering.