When I read the term I was clueless, Pro-Ana and Pro-Mia or sometimes just “Anas & Mias” was something I have never heard of before, but oh this country never ceases to amaze me! Most of the times the shocks and surprises this country brings me are good, 99% of the time is something that makes me smile and makes me see that moving here was the right choice. There is, though, that one percent that is completely fucked up.
Pro-Ana and Pro-Mia, as my research revealed, are websites and groups dedicated to support anorexia and bulimia as a “lifestyle” and not as a mental disorder of any kind. They see it as a choice, as a way to control the one thing you can do something about, yourself. I entered the website thinking I was going to find it funny and that I was going to spend 15 minutes making derisive comments about the silly girls who wanted to be skinny and fit the twisted mold of today’s beauty. I was very wrong.
I spent three horrying hours reading how these girls (mostly girls but there were some guys) spend their life torturing themselves over a 9 oz. tin of cashews!! It would’ve been funny if they would’ve been just vain and superficial people with an obsession of being pretty, but every line spoke of deep-rooted problems., of pain, cutting, feeling invisible, sheer loneliness and it wasn't funny at all, it made me incredibly sad. There are pictures all over the place called "Thinspiration" where a skinny bobbled head Victoria Beckham poses looking like a skeleton, a bare backed bony Keira Knightly whose every back bone you can see, protuding hip bones, deep clavicles, ribs galore.
It’s confusing because at moments they seem so in control of it, as if their disease was part of who they are, as if it was soothing in a way. Some of them know it's sick, they know it’s not normal and still they do it. They want to stop but can't, they don't hesitate about cutting out people from their lives, friends, family who worries about their health and choose the disease or lifestyle instead. They rather be lonelily counting the calories daily to a high of 400 per day (which was the highest calorie count I read most barely survive on 245 calories a day) than to let people in their little circle of celery hell. They choose lonelyness, emptyness, pain, over anything and everyone else.
Some were angry at being judged, others had survived almost dying after being force fed and taken to hospitals and were trying their best to retain their anorexic lifestyle and not dying at the same time. They were struggling for a balance where they could be what they wanted to be, THIN and remain alive to be able to enjoy it. They all say that happiness is 3 pounds away and then another 3 pounds and another 3 pounds but no matter how thin they got, how their bones poked through, how they faded away into almost nonexistance they still sound unhappy about their body. A girl was worrying about the cup of salad she ate at lunch and how she knew it wasn’t bad for her because it had been only 200 calories but how the feeling of fullness made her want to purge. Part of her obviously recognized how irrational it was for her to worry about those 200 calories but the stronger part, the sickness in her made her want to get rid of it. In the forum she asks for guidance asking if she should or should not purge and even though I didn't get to see what happened later I am sure she went to her office bathroom to throw up the little nourishment she gave her starving body.
After spending hours reading about these people torturing themselves over an unhealthy look and goal I couldn’t help but be thankful I spent my teenage and formative years back home. I remember when I started college I decided to drop a few pounds and was 109 pounds at 5 foot 3. My guy friends made an intervention in protest of my fading ass. They all complained that I could no longer pass the “towel test” (a test invented by a pig friend of mine where a girl puts a towel on her butt without holding it and the curve of her butt alone it’s supposed to keep it there) and that they could see my hip bones and that was not pretty. I came to the U.S. when I was 19 and my cousins hadn’t seen me in two years, they both thought I had an eating disorder because they could see every bone in my body pocking out. And I was in a healthy diet! I wasn't starving myself like these people do. As if food was an enemy sneakily waiting for them to fail.
I am so ever thankful that I was expected to have curves, that society back home demanded that I looked like a woman and not like a boy. I was so thankful that my guy friends wanted my ass to be bubbly and out there and liked it as it was and will ever be: Big. I would’ve never survived high school here. I would’ve never survived having my formative years being told I was ugly and fat. I would've turned out like those girls who starve themselves and have breakfast of celery sticks, lunch of a cup of peas and tea as dinner. How can they help but feel inadequate, fat, disgusting, ugly and unhappy when everything out there points out the same thing? That the body they have is not good enough? That happiness and success depends on them being skinny.
I grew up being told that curves were beautiful so I think they are, is it their fault that they think curves are disgusting when they were told that by television, magazines, friends, family, men that sharp angles are preferable?
- What nourishes me also destroys me
- Food is like art. To be looked at, not eaten
- Anorexia is not a self-inflicted disease but a self-controlled lifestyle
- Empty is pure
- If you close your mouth to food, you will know a sweeter taste
- If it taste good is trying to kill you
- Giving into food shows weakness. Say not to food and you’ll be better than everyone else
- Bones define who you really are, let them show
- They’ll say they are concerned about you, your health. All they want is to control you, they want to pin you down and force feed you that fat they call love
- People who eat are selfish and unrealistic (?)
- You don’t NEED food, you just want it.
- Don’t you want to walk on the snow and leave no footprints?
- When you start feeling dizzy and weak it means you are almost there
- Food rots your teeth
- Anorexia is not a disease. It is not a game. Anorexia is a skill perfected only by a few. The chosen, the pure, the flawless.
I truly hope those people someday see that having body fat is not the same as being fat. Eating one cookie it’s okay. Bones are not meant to be seen the same way we don’t see beams on a building because otherwise it’s falling apart. That life isn’t about counting the calories on celery sticks, it’s about being healthy and laughing, crying, eating, living, loving, not about secrets, and purging, misery, loneliness.
See the light, people! Have a doughnut!