Series: “Accepting Our Appearance”
The Interview: A Voice to be Heard
When our self‑concept is distorted, it can be fixed.
If we assess our level of functioning, regarding our quality of life and happiness, we can modify behavior by realizing a need for change.
For some, this “fixing” and “change” are taken to an extreme.
To provide an authentic account of those who struggle to accept their appearance, the following interview is between me and a young girl from a ProAna forum, where anorexia is promoted as a lifestyle. Within the Eating Disorder Community, there’s a special lingo members use to communicate.
I didn’t want her to feel threatened or judged, I simply wanted to hear her experience; throughout the interview, I use the lingo to help her feel more comfortable.
I hope, through this genuine perspective, we learn more about ourselves.
Be aware, empathize, learn, and grow.
We can either acknowledge our issues or remain in denial.
I transcribed the information included in her profile, translating some of her ProAna abbreviations, for clarity’s sake.
Ethnicity: Native American
Highest Weight (HW): 150lbs.
Current Weight (CW): 131.8lbs.
Goal Weight 1 (GW1): 130lbs.
Goal Weight 2 (GW2): 110lbs.
Ultimate Goal Weight 1 (UGW1): 100lbs.
Ultimate Goal Weight 2 (UGW2): 95lbs.
The interview took place over the phone on Tuesday March 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm.
- Me: When did you start to embrace ProAna?
- A: Nine years old.
- Me: What triggered your interest?
- A: Well, it was really my own curiosity. I started to check out some of the information online and it kind of sucked me in. There was also this one time my dad called me fat. I will never forget that! I guess, in that way, it was kind of my parents too.
- Me: Do your parents know you’re ProAna?
- A: Oh no…no one does.
- Me: You’ve never told anyone?
- A: I have one friend who knows, but she’s not ProAna. I talk to this other girl who’s ProAna; it’s only texting though…we’ve never met in real life.
- Me: In all these years, no one’s been able to detect you’re ProAna?
- A: Nope…no one. Everyone’s clueless! I guess I’m pretty good at hiding it…after all these years…
- Me: Do you engage in regular exercise?
- A: Of course!
- Me: Are you only ProAna or are you ProMia too?
- A: I’m both.
- Me: Do you identify with one more than the other?
- A: No, they’re both pretty equal.
- Me: So you practice ED rituals, like fasting, along with binging and purging?
- A: Yep. I fast about one to two days a week.
- Me: How do your habits affect your body?
- A: I actually have a lot of health issues…my stomach is torn apart from the vomiting…and laxatives. I get sick a lot. I guess I’m just kind of weak.
- Me: Do you practice self‑harm?
- A: No, not anymore.
- Me: What did you do?
- A: I use to burn myself.
- Me: Did you do it as a way to release emotional tension or as a punishment for eating?
- A: I would say it was a mixture of the two.
- Me: Would you say you’re suicidal?
- A: Oh no! Not at all!
- Me: Have you experienced any kind of trauma? Or were you ever bullied or taunted about your weight?
- A: No…it was more of an internal thing. You hear this voice in your head that tells you, “you can’t do it…you will always be fat!” I guess you just do what you can to keep it quiet.
- Me: So, would you say you hate yourself or you hate the food? In all this, who’s the true enemy?
- A: Ummm, I would say the food. The food is the enemy. If it wasn’t for the food, there wouldn’t be a problem.
- Me: How do you see yourself, from one to ten?
- A: A two.
- Me: What do you like about yourself? Really, it can be anything…at least one…?
- A: If I had to say, it would be my eyes.
- Me: Okay. What do you dislike?
- A: Everything else!
- Me: Where do you receive the most pressure to be thin?
- A: Society…definitely! I will never fit in…I’ll never meet up to the standards of what it takes to fit in.
- Me: Who is your ideal thinspiration?
- A: Miley Cyrus.
- Me: Are you proud you’re ProAna?
- A: No…no, no, no. Really. Over the years, it’s been like an on‑again off‑again kind of thing. I’ll see what I’m doing and just think it’s so stupid! Then I have those moments where I’m called back. Once you’re in, you’re in for good…unless you really get help…like real help.
- Me: Have you ever been to treatment?
- A: No, but I probably will. Eventually…
- Me: So, you don’t see being ProAna as a lifestyle, you see it as a sickness?
- A: I mean, I know it’s bad! Obviously! But really, it’s like this battle between good and evil. You want to be happy with yourself, but Ana says you won’t be, unless you lose more weight. Every time you do, it’s just never good enough. You always have to keep going…
- Me: How do you feel Ana has affected your life?
- A: Ehhh, it’s alright. I’m okay with it; it doesn’t take too much from me.
- Me: Overall, are you happy with life?
- A: Sometimes. Most of the time, I’m just depressed.
- Me: Could you imagine living this way, for the rest of your life?
- A: Yeah…it wouldn’t be that hard.
- Me: Would you rather live a long, healthy life or die young, but skinny?
- A: Young and skinny! Definitely…
- Me: If you knew someone who wanted to be ProAna, what would you tell them?
- A: I would tell them it’s a bad idea. You won’t be happy because you’ll never be pleased with yourself. You will feel scared, alone, sad, and will always have bad feelings that will never, ever, go away. You will always have a low self‑esteem. Always…
- Me: Do you want help, so you can stop living ProAna?
- A: I do and I don’t. I’m sick of feeling like this and I’m sick of living in secrecy. At the same time, this is all I know. To think of living any other way is just scary…it seems impossible. The way I live, is what I know…it’s familiar. Ana is the only way.