I would just like to add this at the beginning to say this is not to offend anyone, I have tried extremely hard to ensure there is nothing said to harm anyone who may feel targeted or that I am saying anything I should not, I am only trying to prove more needs to be done.
With mental health cases generally increasing, we can turn this around and say the stigma of mental health is disappearing and its becoming accepted that some people will have a mental illness and that’s okay.
However there are some mental disorders that there is no way to put a positive spin on it. Eating disorders and especially anorexia are becoming a bigger issue for a lot more people, ages vary from as young as 6 to people showing signs in their 70s.
It has come to my attention that young girls are more focused on the way they look and how they should act rather than playing outside and having fun (I am in no way suggesting this is only an issue for girls).
1.6 million People are diagnosed with anorexia in the UK, each year 11% of which are male. This is a startling number of people in a world where malnutrition is a key issue at the other side of the world.
After some research I had come across a blog that claimed;
“I do not encourage harmful behaviour in anyway”.
Yet went on to say that you can never be too skinny and that starving yourself is a perfectly acceptable way to live.
Anorexia is not seen to be an illness by those who have it, it’s a lot more than being skinny, however those reading or writing the blogs and websites, worship a God – the Ana God. Something to be admired and looked up to, intrusted, and perhaps feared (from what I have gathered).
A so called Ana god, will save them, make them attractive. There’s another thing; it’s never beautiful or pretty, it’s always attractive. That is what I have seen on many sites, it’s not about making that person happy; it is for the wider society, they want to be perceived in a certain way by strangers. They want to be admired and adored for their body that is barely even there. This is an unusual concept for me to grasp, as many would see this as a reversed perception of anorexia, they aren’t even doing this to benefit themselves, they are simply achieving one ‘goal’ and once this is reached, continue to starve themselves until they are no longer distinguishable between a human being and a skeleton.
The belief widely presented; that by starving oneself, anything can be achieved. Yet case after case proves this wrong. So many young people become depressed, (with almost 50% of people with eating disorders meeting the criteria for depression) anti-social, less confident. The voices get into their head and often it is almost impossible to save them from a spiralling mass of chaos, than engulfs their entire being.
A person often becomes cut–off from friends, family etc because there whole life is to do with becoming skinny, as they are unable to be loved or to love whilst they are ‘fat’, in their own mind.
From my research I have seen that there is so much more to anorexia than one first imagines, it is not just a person becoming obsessed about how little they eat. They become enslaved to something that doesn’t even exist.
“You cannot defy me”
Expressed in a letter from ‘Ana’, shows further how involved people are becoming in this. The belief that their existence is only due to ‘Ana’. And therefore they owe it to her become skinny and isolate themselves from anyone who doesn’t live this way.
“It is like you have another person inside of you and there always telling you what to do and what not to do”.
Another concept shown to reveal the dangerous nature; comes from the term: ‘Thin commandments’. Rules of equal importance to those in the Bible, Torah, Quran etc. 10 rules one must live by in order to complete a perfect existence, because that’s what happens. This becomes the bane of someone’s life; they don’t focus on anything else, as nothing else can make them happy.
- If you aren’t thin, you aren’t attractive. (1)
- What the scale says is the most important. (7)
- You can never be too thin. (9)
(All above quoted)
However there remains to be some contradictions with these commandments, for example a person can be too thin. It’s often referred to as malnutrition. Often people suffering begin to believe that there is no end to their journey, that they can always be thinner. Yet this is proved wrong as many as 20% face chronic issues regarding anorexia (with bulimia even higher – 23% remaining chronically ill).
A person of my size, weight, age and activeness, should be consuming around 1400 calories a day, yet food schedules and such like show many people have an intake of less than half of this.
Often on blogs and sites there are sections named thinspiration; these feature before and afters, slim girls turning into skin and bone, one can only look for so long. Another segment named ‘quotes’ featuring things such as:
“Pretty girls don’t eat”
“Keep calm and stop eating until they take you to hospital”
“When the bones show, it doesn’t mean your skinny, it means there’s more to lose”
This begins to drill into young people that they should look to this and become this, live by it, how they should be. If this carries on more young children will become more ill, quicker.
“I really need an Ana buddy, I’ve been Ana for a few months, but I have lost control the past weeks and need support.
(I’m 13 years old, weight 53 kg and live in Norway.)
I wanna see bones”.
(53kg = 8 stone)
This is something that needs to be stopped. Pro-anorexia sites fall into the same category as terrorist sites, as they both commend radical behaviour, obviously it can be seen that one can pose more of a threat to the greater public, yet the fact remains that once someone becomes ‘Ana’ it is not impossible for someone to follow their example and so the cycle continues.
So what is there left to do? There are plenty of charities and such like that will help people, there is therapy, medicine. Yet people are still falling into the trap and becoming dangerously ill. The internet can be a dangerous place, the likelihood is that people with these sites; nobody who could help them will be aware of them, so there is nothing that can be done, to help them.
The media is of no help, with a continues stream of photo shopped models – people who don’t even exist. People coming out with things such as:
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”
Said by Kate Moss. This has been criticized since the very moment it had been said. Often young people look up to the wrong people, aiming to be skinny as they believe they will be admired.
As there is yet to be a remarkable change, whereby the numbers of people falling into the eating disorder category is greatly reduced, something surely needs to be done by those in power. As this is not an issue that will disappear by itself, it requires more than an attitude change. Young people are suffering and it often sets them up for life.
Why should the government not become involved in this contemporary world-wide issue?