Commentary

Dear Ana

By Rachel Birdsell |

If I tossed out the term “thinspiration,” how many of you would know what it means? I’d venture to guess it’s probably not as many of us as should know.

Thinspiration is a mash-up of the words thin and inspiration that equates to inspiration for being thin. Not such a bad thing, is it? If you’re unhealthy and need to lose weight, then a little thinspiration might help you reach a healthier size. Unfortunately, thinspiration is most often used by pre-teen and teenage girls as a nicer way of saying they’re pro-anorexia. Pro-ana and pro-mia are also used instead of pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia respectively.

If you aren’t aware how prevalent pro-anorexia has become, a Google search of pro-ana tips turns up more than 2 million pages as does thinspiration; pro-mia turns up more than one million.

If you want to be truly alarmed, do an image search for any of the above. There are also a large number of pro-anorexia pages on Tumblr where girls share tips on how to be thinner. They are disturbing.

“Write a word that motivates you on your arm to remind yourself to say no to food, but make sure it’s not something that makes your ed [eating disorder] obvious to others that may see it” — until-empty.

There are page after page of tips on how to hide your anorexia and bulimia from family and friends.

“Binged so much yesterday and I felt so fat. Today I’m pretending to be ill… The perfect excuse to not eat for a couple of days without worrying relatives :)” — sunken-eyes-12

I don’t understand how the parents of these girls don’t realize something is going on. The photos I’ve seen have instantly set off blaring alarms in my head.
Are parents that oblivious to their daughters? Are they too scared to face the truth? How the hell do you not know your daughter isn’t eating?

These girls aren’t just shunning food, though; they’re actually punishing themselves to stop from eating.

“Keep a rubber band on your wrist. Snap it when you want to eat.” — pro-ana love

“If you start to feel hungry do sit ups or punch yourself in the stomach. You will not feel hungry anymore.” — breefresh

Many of the girls have a goal of weighing less than 100 pounds, and they’re starving themselves to get there. If you’re 5’7” and weigh less than 100 pounds, chances are you’re not healthy.

“Only ten more pounds to go and I’ll be at my goal weight. My ultimate goal weight is 90 but I think I might look tooo thin then, we’ll see how I like my body at 95. If I still feel fat than another 5 lbs shouldn’t hurt. I’m sooo happy :’) I hope I’m at least 95 by mid-May though.” — iamnottrina

A mental illness is being exalted, glamorized and encouraged all over the Internet, and it seems everyone is just looking the other way. Ignoring the problem won’t make it disappear. There will still be girls out there who are starving and harming themselves because they have a mental disorder. What are we going to do to help?

“i hate myself so much. i’ll never be a pretty cheerleader with a beautiful thigh gap and collar bones. brb cutting.” — i-wish-i-were-prettiest

If you are struggling with an eating disorder or need more information, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association at (800) 931-2237, or visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer and artist. You can drop her a line at rabirdsell@gmail.com

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