Pro-Ana: eating disorder or a desperate attempt to gain control?

While taking in my regular dose of documentaries about diets and eating disorders, I came across a phenomenon called as Pro-ana. I was utterly shocked. I could not believe that such a thing could exist and that so many people would want to embrace it and make it a lifestyle.

I had come to know a good deal about eating disorders after watching programs like Super size vs. Super Skinny and interviewing some people for my journalism assignment during beat‘s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week when I was in UK. I would regularly scourge documentary websites and basically any place where I could catch hold of Channel 4 documentaries. It’s during one such desperate search sessions that I found this utterly shocking disorder that is increasingly reducing the age in which it hits people. And what pushed me to write this post is this documentary I’m watching right now.

The documentary features a girl as young as 11 who suffers from anorexia and who had to be admitted to a recovery centre as she and her friends were competing with each for who’d lose maximum weight. At 11, for most kids I know, the worrying thought isn’t losing weight but missing out on their favourite cartoon show or getting 1/2 inch smaller piece of chocolate compared to the kid next door, or going to McDonalds, or strategies to get their parents to buy them the most coveted toy.

What then is it that drives these people to such extremes as to constantly seeing fat/ lard on their bodies where others see just skin and bones? It’s shocking to read the commandments of Pro-Ana what is also called as Thinspiration. It’s a proper movement that promotes not eating and sees eating as sign of weakness. They see food as an enemy that is trying to gain control which is why they should shun it and in the process gain control over food. All these commandments are the exact opposite of what doctors would ever tell you to do for good mental and physical health.

I just HAVE to know what prompts people to be just skin and bones and hate curves? Do they see something we can’t see? What brings on this extreme hatred for your own body? What makes you feel guilty about eating perfectly normal and healthy food? What creates this need to be thinner than just skin and bones? What comes after? disappearing? What is so obsessive about this that while your friends enjoy booze nights of gluttony you are left feeling guilty about eating an extra piece of carrot? What???? I’m left wondering….

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4 comments

  1. I can understand how you have to find out more about this. It is sometimes unbelievable, and therefore at the outmost importance that we research it and spread the knowledge, so we might be better to recognize and help people who have to live like this.

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  2. Hi ForFreePsychology. I agree. We should probably begin with a periodic check on whether we are falling prey to the ever-so-thin images that we are exposed to frequently than might lead us into believing that our normal size is in fact too fat.

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  3. I was doing some research on teen problems ( now it sounds very interesting, but it wasn’t!!) : and came across this. I was obsessed with this pro-ana, pro-mia culture. Check out lot of movies on youtube about it btw. Sort of cheapish made for tv movies, but nonetheless, it sort of explains this disorder. I also was fascinated by all this phenomenon of teens cutting themselves. sad that it mostly happens to girls and largely due to pressure on them to look the right way.

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    1. I know! It does sound interesting and I tend to obsessively watch documentaries about eating disorders, cosmetic surgeries and the likes, but in the end it’s so sad and scary to know that it can start controlling your entire life and actions. I agree about the pressure to look right…and it’s sad that “right” is pre-decided by others for you. Frankly, I don’t even find it attractive to look exactly like others…like cookie cutter moulds, same shape and size. There’s no fun there.

      Have you watched Louis Theroux’s documentaries btw? I love him. He is awesome. He has series about cosmetic surgery, unstoppable desire of multiple breast augmentations and the likes. Doesn’t preach. Just goes and talks to people and asks loads of questions.

      I wonder if this is something more prominent in western cultures though. I hadn’t even heard of pro-ana until last year. Of course, the fact remains that these things might exist, only they get fancier names when people start researching and media shows interest. apparently there’s a proposal now to classify wanting to always eat healthy and nutritious food as a disorder!

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