I mention this recent bout of not wanting to eat anything because someone who recently left a comment here is not just anorexic but "pro-ana" -- that is, out-and-proud, flamingly anorexic. Awhile back I fleshed out some concrete plans on how a high school girl could seduce her math teacher, since someone had found this blog searching for such advice. And this pro-ana commenter, toastick, wrote:
hey! did you ever post a follow-up?
i think this is great!
Although the post was four months old, I knew which one she must have been referring to (Blogger does not tell you which post a given comment is for). With its two exclamation points in just three sentences, no capitalization, asking questions, and a general warm-fuzziness, this had to have come from another high school girl. And sure enough, once I followed the link to her blog, I confirm that she is (or at the oldest a freshman in college).
Unfortunately, there aren't too many posts there about how she longs to embroil her super-cute math teacher in an affair. In fact, they're all about her daily struggle to eat as few calories as she can, as well as a bunch of pictures of thin girls to motivate her. I'd heard of the pro-ana groups about seven years ago, but that was in the pre-blogging era, and most discussion forum websites are horribly boring. I decided to flip through a few pages of toastick's blog, and two things jump out:
1) Anorexic girls only eat carbs, and maybe a bit of fat from cheese or ice cream. Essentially no protein or fat, though. Here's an example:
crackers- 60 cal
pretzels- 90 cal
yogurt: 100 cal
pizza- 250 cal
cake- 600 cal
If any of you girls are reading this, calories aren't as important as the amount of carbs you eat -- restrict them to 20 - 30 grams a day, and you'll lose weight. Even if you're restricting calories out of an obsession, eating most of those as carbs will thwart all weight loss attempts and will probably make you pack on a few, since insulin is the primary hormone responsible for storing fat rather than burning it. You can do OK on 1200 calories a day of protein and fat -- but will be consumed by hunger if you take in 1200 calories of mostly carbohydrates.
I kind of sympathize with how it feels to be on such a diet, since I tried it for a few days in college. Not because I wanted to lose weight or anything -- just to see if I could do it. I stayed under 1000 calories a day, probably much lower, like a couple hundred. To tell you the truth, I can't remember because my mind never felt like it was in such a fog in my entire life. Young people do all kinds of stupid things, and luckily I only tried this out for a few days.
2) Anorexic girls show incredibly good judgment when it comes to female beauty. This was the real shocker, since the stereotype is that anorexic girls want to look like wire coathangers, and that they idealize such women. However, this just seems to be a bunch of propaganda on the part of those who are hysterical about anorexia (as though obesity weren't an order of magnitude more common). You know, the "we've got to save the children" busybodies.
Looking through the pictures that toastick has posted as inspiration, I felt like I was looking at a guy's blog -- granted, a more arty kind of guy who likes somewhat more slender girls, but still someone qualified to pass judgment on female beauty. Most women are COMPLETELY clueless about who is or isn't good-looking, and trying to explain what's wrong with their preferences and what's right about ours never gets anywhere -- even if they really are open-minded and want to get it. They just lack the required brain structure, as I'm sure we do when judging other guys.
To provide some evidence, do a google image search for the following terms: "anorexic," "thinspiration," and "thinspo." The first will give you mostly results from the hysterics, and I find almost none of them appealing. They're the exposed skeleton types. "Thinspiration" is the pro-ana people's coinage for pictures that motivate them to eat less, and the term is popular enough for the hysterics to refer to it as well. The pictures here are pretty mixed.
However, "thinspo" is an abbreviated form of "thinspiration" that apparently only the pro-ana girls themselves employ in casual usage, e.g. when posting pictures on their blogs. So, this is what the girls themselves truly look up to. I clicked through the first 11 pages of these results, which means 198 pictures, and I only found between 5 to 10 of them to be the repulsive skeletal type. The rest were quite attractive. That's an astonishingly high success rate -- about 95% -- for females selecting other females as beautiful. Usually it's based on who's the most fashionable, chic, or popular -- or merely who most resembles the judge.
Not only do the girls look great, they embody bouncy youth and coy femininity, whose appeal to men most females utterly fail to appreciate. Impressionistically, I'd say over 90% of them were under 25, with around 30% - 40% appearing to be high school students. (I'll bet they would love the JailbaitGallery.com website.) I really have no idea what traits the anorexic girls possess that have endowed them with this unusual perspicacity, but the results don't lie. And btw, how many fell into the "MILF" or "hyper-aerobicized Hollywood power bitch" categories? About zero.
Therefore, at least judging from the out-and-proud anorexic girls, in general they don't hold a wire coathanger ideal -- those images come instead from the hysterics who want to shock us into action by telling us that lots of girls dream of looking like skeletons. Again, anorexia as it's really practiced seems to be a carb-fest, devoid of protein and animal fat, in addition to most vitamins and minerals, so I'm not in favor of it for simple health reasons. But trying to scare people into action only backfires and engenders cynicism once people find out that you were lying to them about the severity of the danger.
Everyone kind of already knows that hardly anyone is anorexic, so the emphasis from hysterics has shifted to the anorexic or thin ideal that the media broadcast to all females, damaging a whole generation psychologically when they realize they can't live up to it. In reality, the skeletal ideal is just propaganda from advocacy groups, whereas real anorexic girls worship an ideal that is youthful, feminine, and all-around good-looking, but just somewhat on the slender side -- something that no guy would consider disgusting.
I can't say I'm too surprised that the message coming from one of those "providing a voice for the voiceless" groups was a bunch of bullshit, but still. One upside to the internet is that you can actually see what makes these "voiceless" people tick. Sometimes they're even more fucked up than you'd believed -- most pundits, for example -- but other times you see that they'd just gotten a bum rap.
Let's end with a little thinspo: