The Interview: A Voice to be Heard

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.

            START INTERVIEW

  • 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.

 

END INTERVIEW

*******************

conquer Image Credit

 

Link Back to the Previous Post for this Series

Link Back to the Series Introduction

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “The Interview: A Voice to be Heard

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this interview. I knew support systems existed on the web but I never thought they could also support and encourage unhealthy lifestyles such as EDs. In college, I lived in a communal setting with a lot of girls, and I realized how prevalent eating disorders are. No matter how much weight they lost they were never happy with it. Your blog is doing a great thing by teaching people how to accept themselves.

    • Nowadays, there are support systems for everything! Social media is raging…

      When I found these ProAna sites, I was shocked.

      College carries tons of pressure; it’s a place between academia and reality, where our looks either make or miss the mark. In your case, being surrounded by girls in a communal setting, there’s even more pressure; it’s good you were aware and didn’t get pulled in!

      I’m happy you enjoyed the interview!

  2. I had no idea there were forums such as these online. This interview is very enlightening. I wish policy-makers would listen to these stories; realize the damage advertising and societal ideals are doing to girls. And the problems girls’ face don’t just go away when told they should stop. It’s all-encompassing. As your interviewee said, it’s a voice in her head. It’s so sad. Thank you for posting this.

    • When I discovered the whole ProAna world, I knew I had to take action and carry out the message. Warped perceptions can have long lasting consequences, so we must be aware and recognize where our thinking and behavior comes from.

      I never mean to judge, only to help and I made this very clear to the interviewee; I wanted her to shed the light of truth upon her own struggle, to help others learn and grow.

      I’m so happy this post reached you…

      The better informed we are, the better choices we make.

  3. Wow, I had no idea that some people lead such a lifestyle without being aware of how much harm it does. Girls need to understand how much beauty they have in them. Focus on the positives.
    It’s so easy to fall into the trap of desiring to be skinny, but skinny doesn’t always equal attractive. It’s much more important to be healthy.

    • Yes, it’s unfortunate. From my research, it’s been estimated that up to 8 million Americans have an eating disorder. Many don’t seek professional help and it transcends throughout their whole life. Moreover, if those with an eating disorder are able to have kids, the disorder tends to influence their young as well, which only pushes the illness to hurt more people.

      Beauty is such a subjective concept. You’re right when you speak of it as a trap. When we perceive beauty as an ideal that evades us, it transforms into this detrimental, unattainable reminder of what we will never be.

      Being healthy is essential…I couldn’t agree more!

  4. This is a great post, and I especially like that you included that photo at the end! I love livehappy, and I think it fit very well with this article.

    • Thank you.

      Life evolves into what we make it, regardless of what we’re dealt. I feel the image really turns the whole post back to the lesson of accepting our appearance.

      I found the singular livehappy image, but I didn’t know there was a whole network! Until you mentioned it as a brand, I though it was just a tag for the picture.

      Thanks for the information, I have to check it out!

  5. Your interview really opened my eyes. I’ve seen many thinspiration blogs but I’ve never been on a ProAna forum. This type of thinking is so harmful and paralytic. I wish this girl would seek help.

    • Help comes when we seek it…when we choose to stay sick, that’s when we feel helpless.

      I’m happy this brought you awareness; it did the same for me.

      I started seeing information for ProAna and after doing some research, I just knew I had to bring it up for discussion. The whole “lifestyle” concept inspired me to write this series! I had hoped the interview would make the topic much easier to relate to; it’s an eye-opener as to how our self-image can impact our lives.

  6. I used to be on a proana forum but not because I felt it was a lifestyle but rather so I could talk to people who understood the horror of it all… and, of course, to feed into the illness, although I didn’t think of it like that then. I left for many reasons, one of which was the wannarexics. It was blatantly obvious they didn’t have an eating disorder but did know the lingo and I couldn’t stand them trying desperately to become eating disordered, ugh.

    I remember someone making a remark to me when I was her age, around 9, about how lucky I as that I had “padding” so that when I sat down it didn’t hurt. Well, yay, now it hurts. Sigh, people…. however, mine is a reponse to trauma and also pressure from when I was in the military. A surprising number of people in the military end up with eating disorders. You’d think they would change their way of measuring healthy.

    • I understand. I often read that those who have eating disorders enjoy the collective support, but as you said, it feeds into the illness.

      I saw people asking questions about how to become “better anorexics”, so I can see how “wannarexics” could be frustrating, when you’re truly suffering.

      When it comes down to it, I think everyone starts of with the “wanna-“. If we want something bad enough, we fake it til we make it.

      Questioning what and why we want something is crucial; we must think, “Is this taking from my life or enhancing my life?”
      The answer makes all the difference.

      Words weigh heavy and should be used with caution. People can speak carelessly–I’m sorry about that “padding” comment.

      I’ve learned that loss, heartbreak, and trauma are usually at the root of bad habits and negative thinking; it all has to start somewhere, that’s for sure!

      I believe the military, most certainly, would have people with eating disorders. Eating disorders are all about control; for the military, structure and control dominate their perspective.

      We all fall to some type of weakness…it’s how we recuperate that defines who we are.

Go on and comment...express yourself! Let's keep the peace, seek knowledge, and philosophize! Let your thoughts be heard...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s