Tumblr is officially taking a stand against pro-ana and pro-mia sites, banning them entirely from their platform.  To this, I take my hat off an breathe a sigh of relief, because the online cults that parade eating disorders as glamorous, desirable, exclusive, and necessary to success are further injuring our integrity and ability to just BE.  Any effort to shutdown this poisonous plexus has my full support.

Because eating disorders are ANYTHING but glamorous.  Let me use this space today to remind us all – and awaken others to the truth – of how degrading, debilitating, painful, and even repulsive life with an eating disorder almost always is or becomes.

anorexicWARNING: this discussion touches on moments of anguish and situations of extreme disease.  Details may be vivid, harsh, and unpleasant; they may be upsetting to some readers but must, I believe, be revealed.

It starts with a little change – a few pounds shed, a meal skipped, maybe even a little extra-curricular bathroom visit.  But before long, it morphs into something of much greater intensity.  Soon it’s a whole day without eating, two frantic hours at the gym, a shopping cart of food consumed and purged within half and hour.  Maybe it’s a steady diet of laxatives or diet pills.  To be fair, still not too far out of the ordinary among today’s women.

Symptoms of BulimiaBut for many of us, it continues.  We live off carrots until our skin turns orange.  The laxatives twist our digestive tracts inside out.  We vomit blood after eight straight hours of the binge-purge cycle.  The extra 5k on our daily run leaves our hearts skipping erratically.  Fingers turn blue and yellow.  We excrete runny or foul-smelling stools with painful effort. Skin stretches so tight across our frames, we lose steady circulation.  Our hair falls out and our teeth rotWe bruise our lovers with our boney hips and our friends can no longer look us in the eyes.  We sink deeper into our shadows.

And still it goes on, even when we’ve long since had enough.  It has us in a lethal grip of fear, shame, and obsessionWe can barely think about anything else.  We obediently carry out its insane commands, fearing the tremors and guilt that any resistance brings. 

anorexiaAnd I ask, what is so GLAMOROUS about being a PRISONER?  About being trapped in a hurricane of self-loathing and defeat?  About slowly-executed suicide?  NOTHING.  There is NOTHING glamorous or desirable about collapsing in front of the toilet in a pool of your own despair.  There is NO GLORY in the world of feeding tubes and heart monitors within the coldly sterile confines of a hospital.  If the complete absence of pleasure, laughter, joy, and freedom are necessary to succeed, IT’S NOT WORTH IT. 

On a trip to Costa Rica, I was so underweight and boney, I could barely hold myself up during a 4hr horseback trek.  By the end of it, the motion and friction from the saddle had created an excruciating contusion on my backside – my tailbone had pierced my unpadded skin, leaving a wound that is to this day an area of discomfort and vulnerability.  THERE IS NOTHING GLAMOROUS about that.  The only upshot is the scar that will forever remind me of how gruesome anorexia made my life.

So to all the pro-ana’s and pro-mia’s out there, I hope you know what you’re signing up for.  Quit insulting the rest of us who have suffered the truths of this disease by disguising it as an attractive game.  Because IT’S NOT, and by the time you finally understand, it might be too late.