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journalist questions - Stop Pro-Ana. Please

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Previous Entry journalist questions Feb. 27th, 2005 @ 03:10 pm Next Entry
Hi
My name is Louise and I am a journalist in the UK. I am researching a piece on online anorexia and bulimia communities. There is no judgemental agenda to this, I am just after personal stories and experiences.
If anyone would like to answer the following questions, I would be really grateful. I will not ask your name, but age and nationality would be useful if that’s OK, also whether you are anorexic or bulimic or in recovery or a parent etc
My email address is LF@louisefoster.freeserve.co.uk
Any help is very welcome
Many thanks
Louise

1. What was your first port of call for information about anorexia or bulimia?
2. What sort of information/advice were/are you looking for?
3. Did you find it?
4. What is the useful thing you have learned about anorexia/bulimia online?
5. If you are anorexic/bulimic, have you ever experienced abuse about it online? What form did it take and what effect did it have on you?
6. A restaurant for anorexics has recently opened in Berlin, Germany. What do you think of this? Would you go to such a restaurant?
7. Is society guilty of double standards by aspiring to thinness yet treating anorexia as a disease? What does this make you feel?
8. Do you see fasting, posting stats and losing weight as competitive?
9. What is your proudest achievement?
10. What does pro anorexia mean to you?
11. If you are anorexic/bulimic, what was the turning point at which you became so and what triggered that?
12. What would it mean to you if pro anorexia sites and communities were taken off the internet forever? How do you feel about bodies that are trying to make this happen?
13. What does recovery mean to you?
14. I am particularly interested in contacting anorexics/bulimics who live in the Middle East, especially the Emirates to discuss via email any pressures specific to your lives and cultures. If you live in the Middle East and are willing to answer some further email questions, please let me know!
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From:eber
Date:February 27th, 2005 09:19 pm (UTC)
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1. What was your first port of call for information about anorexia or bulimia?
The first time I actually came across the topic was when I found out my best friend was anorexic in... the fifth grade? Didn't come across anything else for a few more years, but it was probably a random stranger's calorie blog
2. What sort of information/advice were/are you looking for? I was just curious, so basically anything and everything about EDs
3. Did you find it? I guess so.
4. What is the useful thing you have learned about anorexia/bulimia online? It's got a culture of it's own. Very easy to get wrapped up in and very hard to get out of, even if you want to.
5. If you are anorexic/bulimic, have you ever experienced abuse about it online? What form did it take and what effect did it have on you? Not abuse, per say, but a few nasty comments both online and off. It just made me feel really guilty. There's already a lot of guilt involved with eating disorders, so to have that piled on was... not easy, to say the least.
6. A restaurant for anorexics has recently opened in Berlin, Germany. What do you think of this? Would you go to such a restaurant? Kind of an oxymoron, isn't it? I'd be curious, but probably stay away.
7. Is society guilty of double standards by aspiring to thinness yet treating anorexia as a disease? What does this make you feel? Anorexia is a disease. Both mentally, and if you let it grow, physically. But yes, it's extemely frustrating to see the obvious double standars for beauty.
8. Do you see fasting, posting stats and losing weight as competitive? It can be competitive extremely easily. I've caught myself compairing weights, BMIs, etc. a few times.
9. What is your proudest achievement? I'm... going to pass on answering this, if that's ok with you.
10. What does pro anorexia mean to you? Sometimes it can just be some girls wanting desperately to lose 5 pounds and being as taboo as possible while doing. Sometimes it's actual anorexics who aren't willing to get better. Sometimes it's some photoshopped pictures of already skinny models...
11. If you are anorexic/bulimic, what was the turning point at which you became so and what triggered that? It was a slow process... I can't exactly think of one cause or even a couple. Sorry.
12. What would it mean to you if pro anorexia sites and communities were taken off the internet forever? How do you feel about bodies that are trying to make this happen? I think it's a good thing people are trying to help and understand, but I don't think shutting them down will help much. As for the people behind the sites... I'm not really sure any more.
13. What does recovery mean to you? Being at a place where you don't have to count calories, but if you do they don't determine your mood. Being okay with who you are.
As you asked... age is 16 (started about 12 though) and I'm white... mostly western European decent if you're going to get specific.
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From:velvet_noise
Date:February 28th, 2005 09:29 pm (UTC)
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This will have to span two comments due to the character limit...

1. What was your first port of call for information about anorexia or bulimia?
When I first became ill, I wasn't really interested in finding out much about it because I didn't believe that it applied to me. I remember the first thing my parents did, however, was call the Eating Disorders Association helpline. This was all before we had access to the internet. When I first got online, I was quite interested in finding people who could relate to me (I was in recovery at this time) and ended up on pro-ana sites. I soon realised it was not what I was looking for.
2. What sort of information/advice were/are you looking for?
I'd been very isolated throughout my illness, so I was looking for people I could talk to who would maybe understand what I was going through (in a sense, I wanted to be told that I wasn't crazy or alone).
3. Did you find it?
No. Most of the information on anorexia that I've found online has been either the basic medical information (symptoms, treatment etc) or, of course, pro-ana. The former is not of much use to me, and the latter leaves me bewildered on a daily basis. After a few visits to pro-ana sites, it became somewhat apparent to me that they must have changed anorexia since I last had it.
4. What is the useful thing you have learned about anorexia/bulimia online?
I don't know about "useful", but certainly the most prominent thing I've learned is that there are a lifetime's worth of misconceptions about it that are, sadly, generally accepted by the public, and only perpetuated by pro-ana. There's very little truth about anorexia and bulimia online. Or offline, for that matter. People won't (or are too lazy to) see beyond the aesthetic.
5. If you are anorexic/bulimic, have you ever experienced abuse about it online? What form did it take and what effect did it have on you?
Not directly to me, because I tend to keep myself to myself online and don't provoke that kind of reaction. However, I have seen many things said about eating disorders which anger me, even though they weren't aimed specifically at myself. The number one way to get me to cyber-smack you is to come out with "think of all those starving children in Africa while you ungratefully throw up your food!". It disgusts me the way that mental illness is still so incredibly misunderstood and dismissed as a simple "choice".
6. A restaurant for anorexics has recently opened in Berlin, Germany. What do you think of this? Would you go to such a restaurant?
Basing my opinion on what you just told me (I've never heard of this restaurant before, and I don't know anything about it), I would say that it's a rather pathetic attempt to cash in on the "glamour" that idiots worldwide tend to associate with anorexia (hey, celebrities are thin, they must all be anorexic!). If someone had enough money to open up a restaurant, and genuinely cared about eating disorders, then I would have hoped that they'd have pumped the money into the much under-funded area of research into eating disorders, or the similarly under-funded area of TREATMENT. And no, I wouldn't eat there. I have an eating disorder; no one else is allowed to prepare my food, nor are they allowed to see me eat it.
7. Is society guilty of double standards by aspiring to thinness yet treating anorexia as a disease? What does this make you feel?
That's like asking if society is guilty of double standards because we treat famine as a problem. Anorexia has nothing to do with any standards set by society concerning thinness. Anorexia is a complex mental disorder that unfortunately can't be remedied by telling people that "big is beautiful". The media is certainly guilty of many hypocrisies concerning body image and diets ("feel good about yourself whatever your shape!" / "here's another expensive fad diet that will solve all your problems!") but where would the $billion diet industry be without glossy magazines? I don't think, though, that your average person aspires to the kind of thinness that is conveyed through the media. In the current climate, I do believe that the word "healthy" is the bigger money-maker.
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From:velvet_noise
Date:February 28th, 2005 09:32 pm (UTC)
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...

8. Do you see fasting, posting stats and losing weight as competitive?
I think the intent usually is (in the context of pro-ana). Anorexia is most often a very private, secretive illness, which is why what I see on pro-ana sites just doesn't tally. Let's face it; pro-ana is a diet club for the kids who don't fit in anywhere else.
9. What is your proudest achievement?
I've never really thought about that to be honest. Probably surviving this long, as morbid as it sounds. I was once told that I'd be lucky to last another two weeks. That was four years ago and I'm almost back to full health. It's not something that just "happens". It's been a lot of hard work.
10. What does pro anorexia mean to you?
Farce. I'll go out on a limb here and say that 95% of these "pro-anorexics" would never be diagnosed with an eating disorder, because they don't have one. I find it insulting, especially when they feel the need to use pictures of very ill anorexics as "thinspiration". I find it sad that they waste their time looking at pictures of models and then blame society for their low self-esteem. I'm angered that they do nothing but reinforce the lie that anorexia is a diet used by teenage girls who desperately want attention. I just find it all quite ridiculous. Since when has an anorexic needed to be TOLD how to starve? Starving isn't an OPTION or a GOAL when you're anorexic; it's LIFE. It's what you do and you can't NOT do it. "Thinspiration", tips and tricks, diet buddies... it's all redundant in the shadow of your own psyche.
11. If you are anorexic/bulimic, what was the turning point at which you became so and what triggered that?
I can't really pinpoint anything specific. I just remember, when I was 14, deciding that it would be good if I could cut out chips from my diet. Looking back, it made me feel good that I was resisting something that everyone else indulged in. I started cutting out other things, and then whole meals. Obviously my parents were very worried, but I honestly couldn't understand why. I saw nothing wrong with my eating habits because they had very quickly become "natural" to me, and I couldn't remember how things used to be. That was the beginnings of anorexia; I became bulimic a couple of months after coming out of hospital for anorexia (I was 18, nearly 19). I felt that I'd come a long way in my recovery and desperately wanted to avoid getting that sick again, but I just didn't know how to cope with life without using food as a crutch. So I would eat (denying the anorexia), and then throw up. Everything was okay for a few months until I realised that I couldn't stop and I'd screwed things up once more :-). That was nearly four years ago, and I still throw up at least once a day. My dentist loves me.
12. What would it mean to you if pro anorexia sites and communities were taken off the internet forever? How do you feel about bodies that are trying to make this happen?
I don't think it will ever realistically happen, due to the anonymous nature of the internet. However, I would certainly be pleased if it DID happen, because maybe then we could start to undo all of the misinformation that these sites have spread about eating disorders. I fully support anyone who is trying to get pro-ana sites off the internet because I don't believe that pro-ana does anything positive at all. Personally (and because I see closing down pro-ana sites as an impossible task), I would rather dedicate my energy to encouraging awareness and understanding of eating disorders, something which is severely lacking in the current internet environment.
13. What does recovery mean to you?
Recovery is about being able to feel all of the highs and lows that come with life, and managing to deal with them. Anorexia is a method of shutting off all those things so that life becomes pure monotony, and therefore unthreatening. Sometimes you have to live life outside your safezone.

And I'm 22 and white (from the UK).

You might get more responses to this if you post it to anti_ana (they have a lot more members). I'm sure they'll be fine with you posting this, but you might want to contact a mod first just to be sure.
From:angels_instead
Date:March 1st, 2005 05:02 am (UTC)
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1. What was your first port of call for information about anorexia or bulimia? In the sixth grade a friend of mine taught me how to throw up. Over the next few years I experimented in throwing up, fasting, and extreme exercise. My senior year of high school I learned of laxatives and those became my method of choice.

2. What sort of information/advice were/are you looking for? I am looking for information on how to prevent these disorders in young men and women.

3. Did you find it? It's a long journey, but I hope to help at least a few people someday

4. What is the useful thing you have learned about anorexia/bulimia online? It's nice to know that you are not alone.

5. If you are anorexic/bulimic, have you ever experienced abuse about it online? What form did it take and what effect did it have on you? I'm not sure how to answer this question... being online wasn't a huge part of my illness

6. A restaurant for anorexics has recently opened in Berlin, Germany. What do you think of this? Would you go to such a restaurant? I am not sure to be honest with you. It depends on the intentions of the restaurant. If they are truly trying to help anorexics eat food that they feel is "safe" yet nutrious, then it could be a good thing. If it is just a marketing scheme where all they serve is lettuce and feed into the anorexics already twisted mind set, then I think it is a horrible idea.

7. Is society guilty of double standards by aspiring to thinness yet treating anorexia as a disease? What does this make you feel? Anorexia (as in bulimia) is a disease. Society is guilty of making people feel that the only way to get ahead in life is to be thin. I am happy that anorexia is looked upon as a disease because then people who have it don't necessarily feel so alone and helpless.

8. Do you see fasting, posting stats and losing weight as competitive? Yes, very. I hate hearing about what my friends ate or did not eat that day, it makes me upset. But I have to add that I have not fasted nor thrown up nor taken laxatives in 435 days!

9. What is your proudest achievement? Going 435 days without fasting, throwing up, or taking laxatives

10. What does pro anorexia mean to you? Pro-anorexia means that people are actually encouraging others to use anorexia as a way to become ideal. Basically, it is a way to help people kill themselves, because that is what eating disorders do... kill people.

11. If you are anorexic/bulimic, what was the turning point at which you became so and what triggered that? There was no turning point - my friend taught me how to throw up, I found it exciting. I was always the chubby girl, so if I could eat and still lose weight, I figured it was worth a shot.

12. What would it mean to you if pro anorexia sites and communities were taken off the internet forever? How do you feel about bodies that are trying to make this happen? I am VERY anti pro-ana. I don't believe that these sites will ever be able to be taken off the internet, but even if they are, magazines like Cosmo and Glamour are still going to be sold and they promote eating disorders in an even worse way... subliminally - telling you to "embrace your curves" with a size 2 model and an add for a diet pill on the next page. I feel that the people trying to shut down pro-ana sites are amazing and I wish them the best of luck - I am just afraid that it will not happen and more sites like this (anti pro-ana sites) need to be created.

13. What does recovery mean to you? I have two definitions of recover. One is to eat every day, not restrict nor fast, go to the gym on a regular basis but not compulsively, and of course not throwing up or taking laxatives. The other definition is to do all of what I just mentioned, but also not to even want to do these things... Right now I am in definition one, and am working on getting to definition two.

I am a white young woman in her early twenties. I live in the United States. Although you were asking for Middle Eastern women, I had to post anyways. Good luck with your article.
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