What? Who's pro-eating disorder? That's like being pro-herpes -- nobody really roots for health's bad guy, right? Wrong: I interviewed the administrator of one of these pro-anorexia chatrooms, and spent a night lurking there, before I set out to speak with experts about being "pro-ana," and just how dangerous that can be ...
The Pro-Anorexia Community Is Crazy, But Not How You're Thinking
"I am the admin of a pro-anorexia chatroom and have been running it, first as a mod and then as admin, for the better part of a year. I know there are a lot of people who are interested in/disgusted by the pro-anorexia online community, and I would love the chance to tell our side of the story."
This is how "Sarah," the admin of an anonymous pro-anorexia chatroom, introduced herself to me. At that point, I knew very little about the pro-ana community. One thing I did know was that it involved very sick kids literally worshiping the personification of anorexia ("Ana") as a goddess.
Angelfire And like any good vengeful deity, this one takes her share of human sacrifices.
Sarah was adamant that this particular brand of crazy was fringe within pro-anorexia circles. Most of these people are not nutjobs, treating their eating disorder like a literal goddess: they're communities of sick people who acknowledge that they have an illness but also like that illness and don't want to get better. At least, not yet. Sarah said that many people with eating disorders don't want to hear, "'you're fine, you're beautiful the way you are' [because] that won't help you when you're in such a low place."
I spent hours lurking on her chatroom, reading conversations between members, and browsing MyProAna, one of the internet's largest pro-anorexia forums. I found users sharing the ugly details of their eating disorders in a thread called "Ed [eating disorder] moments that normal people would go 'wtf' at":
"Not brushing my teeth 2 times a day, because mfp says I consume 1 calorie every time I brush my teeth. Sorry not sorry"
Stevepb/Pixabay "It may not seem like much, but after a few years, that's enough to keep your organs functioning for a day."