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My Thoughts On “Pro-Ana”

Posted Jan 09 2012 4:48am

Good Morning!

I hope you all had a pleasant and delightful weekend, I know I did!

After writing about my less-than-stellar day on Thursay, reading all of your rather amazing comments of support and inspiration, and going back and reflecting on my own words, allowed me to wake up on Saturday morning with a new attitude. Just getting out what was on my mind that day made it feel as though a weight (no pun intended) had been lifted… a burden of “fat” thoughts and simply feeling bad for myself.

I will admit that I continued to spend Friday brooding, but I did not allow the negativity to continue into the weekend.

Although nothing too extraordinary occurred this weekend, it was a relief to not be overly concerned with my body. Of course the thoughts were still there (if only they could diminish so quickly!) but a change of attitude was helpful. Refusing to have another miserable day like Thursday was a priority, and with this in mind, I embraced my discomfort as well as I could, and attempted to have a “normal” weekend, free of such constant tormenting thoughts.

Ma and I did our Zumba thing 0n Saturday morning (hilarious/embarrassing yet again and oh so fun to have someone to laugh with :) ) and proceeded to spend the rest of the day cleaning, cooking, baking and organizing… ideal for me! Since I had plans to go visit my dad the next day who is steal healing from his illness, I thought it would be nice to bring something healthy and nourishing for us to enjoy together for lunch.

I used Angela’s Holiday Soup recipe but did change a few things- added a pound of cut up butternut squash, a dash of nutmeg, more carrots and squash, a mix of lentils and quinoa for the grains, and a bit more cinnamon. Turned out fabulously and dad, myself and my brother, who was also visiting for the day, enjoyed it very much.

I have made this soup before, and it is definitely one of my favorites. The flavors are absolutely amazing together, it’s hearty and filling as heck, but also healthy and chalk full of nutrients!

It was so… well awesome, to see my dad up and at em again! We had such a lovely day together catching up, chatting, baking (more on this later), and just enjoying each other’s company. You cannot ask for a better Sunday in my opinion :)

Alright so although I had something different planned to talk about today, but a conversation (on the car ride home last night) with my brother really got my thoughts stirring.

As I have mentioned a number of times, I am very close with my both of my brothers, and feel quite comfortable talking to them about anything. In fact, my oldest brother (who I had spent the day with) is one of the main people who finally got my attention by telling me how scared he was for me during the absolute worst time of my disordered eating. Because he reads my blog, we talk about this site sometimes, and also whatever else comes to mind in terms of this recovery process.

I don’t exactly remember how the conversation turned to this, but somehow we arrived on the subject of Pro-Ana websites.

I am fairly certain a lot of you already know what these are, so I am not going into a huge amount of detail with them. I really don’t feel the need to explain how incredibly effed up they are, horrible for any person, should be banned, are downright sick, and all of that good stuff. We are logical, functioning people and any website that is dedicated to giving out “tips” on how to be anorexic just needs to go away.

This post is not necessarily about the Pro-Ana websites themselves, but more of the ideas and motivation behind them… how they still exist and why.

*Although I primarily discuss Anorexia here, these thoughts apply to all other etaing disorders/disordered eating tendencies- in my opinion at least!

When we somehow arrived on the Pro-Ana website subject, I started to rant about their blatant horribleness when my brother suddenly stopped me. Wait Tessa, I have never even heard of these… uhh what are they? At first I was somewhat shocked… but then why would he know? I went onto to explain the basics behind them,

Pro-ana sites have high-traffic blogs and forums on which members seek companionship by posting compulsively about the daily details of their lives or boasting about accomplishments of weight loss in competitive ways. The communities centered around such sites can be warmly welcoming but are more often cliquish and openly suspicious of newcomers. Often pictures of very thin/emaciated women are posted for Thinspiration, motivation to develop the necessary habits to lose a whole lot of weight.

So yeah… fecked up. 

After explaining to him what they are, he was in utter disbelief… how can something like that exist? I mean why would anyone think something like that is a good idea? Why do people knowingly hurt themselves, or say with any kind of sincerity that being Anorexic is a positive thing?! How can these websites even get traffic?

All understandable questions. Anyone that is reading this right now and hearing about Pro-Ana sites for the first time might be having a very similar reaction. To anyone that does not have an ED or disordered eating tendencies, would think this is the most effed up idea ever… like my brother did. Again, WHY would anyone WANT to have this disease?!

Yes these websites exist, and yes, they are really sick. At the same time though, I get them. I will admit something to you all, I have gone to them in the past and poked around. Not necessarily to get “tips” but to see what people are thinking and doing in order to continue this disease. I understand the appeal of them, and the reasons behind why they continue to get attention and traffic.

  • Initially attract both the non-eating disordered (who first visit seeking tips and techniques for losing weight) and the eating-disordered (who seek advice on prolonging their disorder)
  • Give their members a strong sense of community and common identity. Knowing you are not alone in any sort of struggle is always helpful and allows the person to justify their actions… both good and bad ones.

But in my opinion, there are more to these.

The farther a person becomes engrossed in their eating disorder, the more the disease becomes them, who they are, and their existence forms around the illness. They know what is right- how to eat, how much to exercise, how much weight to lose, how thin to become, what habits to become addicted to…. their actions are correct and the consequences do not matter. Who cares if I am losing friends, relationships, physical and mental health and I am quite literally wasting away… at last I am SKINNY!

This used to be me. No, I never reached a point where I required hospitalization, but I was well on my way and these thoughts were mine. I knew what was best and what would lead to happiness… to lose just a bit more weight and then I would be fulfilled. Just a few more pounds and then I will stop… 1, 2, 3, 10 more… and then I will be happy! All rationality is gone, and only the drive to look a certain way, eat a certain way, and stick to a certain schedule…. remains.

Thank goodness that mindset is no longer mine. But of course, I still understand and am tempted by it more often that I care to admit.

When you are completely caught up in the illness, nothing else matters. In this rather vulnerable state of mind, stumbling upon a Pro-Ana site would be an incredible blessing. Not only are you ‘meeting’ others with the strong drive to be thin like you, but you can also get great tips and tricks to lose weight, and compare your habits to others… as a sort of competition.

In a sick and twisted way, it’s “fun” to see how much less you can eat, or more you can exercise compared to those that you talk to on a Pro-Ana website. Your behaviors are justified and reinforced, and the drive to continue your irrational and dangerous habits is that much easier because you know there are strangers out there supporting you.

Who gives a sh*t if you are losing every good part of your existence, as long as you can stay in control and be skinny.

I suppose the overall point I was trying to make to my brother (and to anyone that has read this whole dang thing) is that during the “worst times” it really does not matter if you are living a shadow of your formal self, severely underweight, at-risk for a heart-attack or other serious and even deadly consequences. When you are living in the obsessive torment of an eating disorder, rationalities do not exist, even knowing you are destroying your life does nothing to stop you from your habits.

It does not matter that Pro-Ana websites promote a disease that has the strong potential to kill you. You need to be thin and in control, and that’s that.

**What I wrote about is not what rational, functioning, recovering Tessa believes. The consuming eating disorder, irrational Tessa, the “thing” behind these thoughts, is the drive to continue the dangerous habits no.matter.what.

As I said before, this used to be me. I remember how losing weight defined me and nothing else mattered, especially how sick and unhealthy I was becoming… losing every aspect of the thriving young woman I used to be. This is why I understand the appeal of Pro-Ana websites- what a desirable source to stumble upon that solidifies every single dangerous ritual you partake in.

Certain actions and mentalities are still there, and I am very aware of this. However, making a tremendous effort with recovery is what has enabled me to come as far as I have. Finally understanding that wow, life could be so much better without this damn disease, is what continuously pushes me to keep pressing on. I mean as simple and perhaps dumb as that sounds, it really is true.

On the rare days where I feel “good” about myself and the voice of the eating disorder is quieter, those are the best days, the ones where I know freedom from this is possible. The times where I am a self-proclaimed fatty and feel even the slightest temptation to slip back into old habits… I reflect on those good days, and also the horrible ones of my past.

Those sure give me a kick in the ass to keep on fighting through the discomfort, as the end result is worth it <–will keep repeating until it is ingrained in my mind.

-Have you heard of Pro-Ana websites before? What are your thoughts on them (besides the obvious)?

-If you are not comfortable answering this question, feel free to ignore.. have you been on them before? Yes, I will admit that I have.

-Can you understand why these exist, or how they get a continuous amount of traffic? Also, have you noticed the extreme amounts of thin/starving “models” on Pinterest?! That scares/angers me a whole lot.

-Even though you know there are negative consequences, have you ever done a certain something/habit anyway? This is a rather broad question, but can be applied to so MANY different things- smoking, tanning, drugs, alcohol, EDs of course…

-On a lighter note, tell me about your weekend! Whadya do? Please share :)

Sorry about the heavier post today… and on a Monday and such. But in my opinion it’s a subject that needs more attention so that it can eventually go the heck away!

Anyway, have a lovey rest of your day :)

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