Are you pro ana

Interview. Isabel was always dissatisfied with herself and her body. At the age of 14, the now 19-year-old came across pictures of extremely slim people, so-called “thinspiration”, on social media. The downward spiral into anorexia began. For six months she has not been an “Ana”, as the supporters of the Pro Ana movement call themselves. The: bsz gives the dropout an insight into the “Pro Ana” world, which until recently was hers.

“Pro” means support, the term “Ana” is the belittling, almost amicable term for anorexia nervosa, that is, anorexia. A disease that often ends in death. It is precisely this supposedly harmless term that is the dangerous thing about the trend - if you want to call it that. The Anas, as the predominantly female followers of the group call themselves, see anorexia not as a disease, but as a lifestyle, a kind of religion. Isabel, who herself was an “Ana” for four years, finds a topic that is far too little present. The movement is making waves - especially on social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. At the beginning of this year she got out.

: bsz: Tell us - how did it all start?

Isabel: I've always been dissatisfied with how I looked, but I couldn't really justify it. At some point I got my first internet-enabled cell phone. That's when it started with social media. At around 14 I had my own Instagram account, on which I showed my way to a leaner self. I had a little over 5,000 subscribers. That's quite a lot and it happened pretty quickly. When I started doing it, it weighed 47 pounds. Two years later, in 2016, I was around 42 kilos. It went down pretty quickly. In between I always gained a little weight because my mother shouldn't find out. when she became skeptical, I ate a little more and put on weight, but then fasted or followed unhealthy mono diets. Up until about nine months ago, I was really into the process of losing weight or at least trying to maintain my weight. I did a lot of sport and paid close attention to my diet.

When do you have the jumpg dared? How did that happen?

The pressure was huge back then. I've been to several Ana WhatsApp groups. My mother also asked me about my weight, and I was also asked at school. It started slowly with the partying. I then saw myself in photos, my legs and my knees looked so sharp and I thought: 'Phew, that's very skinny.' Then suddenly I didn't think that was nice anymore. I doubted very much. Then I talked to a friend who is basically the exact opposite of me. She is very overweight and also wanted to lose weight, but in the healthy way. I actually didn't want to tell her about any of this. But then it all came and burst out of me. She then accompanied me and made sure that I operated the account less, then she took over the account and changed the password so that I could only access it when I was with her. So the online activity has snuck out and has not broken off radically. We then deleted the account seven months ago. Now I have a normal account with normal photos. In the meantime I am trying to gain weight again because my legs and arms are very bony. I'm currently at 48 kilos, which is roughly where I started (laughs).

How did that start to slide in the pro ana direction? For example, how did you come across the letters (editor's note: There are several letters that “Ana” wrote to her followers)?

My Ana account was initially my private one. I clicked my way through Instagram, then at some point came across the first Ana pages and blogs. The tips all sounded good, in the beginning I wasn't that averse to them. Then came the letters and the Ten Commandments. d. Red .: The ten slimming commandments that Anas regularly keep in mind so as not to lose their goal] for example.

Have a blog I also found it. I just googled that. Pro Ana or Thinspiration. I was shocked how quickly you can find that.

Yes, that's the way it is. You come across pages like this quickly. Twitter, Instagram, WordPad, Blogs, Snapchat. Snapchat in particular is pure thinspiration. You get shot at. Pictures of the call letters, handwritten and with the appeal to read it through and that it is always demonized, but is actually good and so on. As a result, I slipped into it completely.

How do you keep it secret for so long? There are 1,000 situations in which one is confronted with food, be it eating ice cream or drinking cocoa. How do you carry such a secret with you in everyday life?

It's very difficult, especially with school lunches, I went to an all-day school and then I sometimes just ate that and fasted the rest of the day. It was difficult because my mother always had breakfast with me. At some point I realized that if I eat my slice of toast slowly enough, it would start getting ready for work. So I ate three bites, packed the rest and threw it away outside, because of course it would have been noticed if I had disposed of it at home. I threw school sandwiches and ate a salad for lunch. When someone asked me that I wasn't eating much, I had excuses ready: 'My mother will pick me up, we will go to the Chinese in a minute' or 'I'll meet a friend in a moment and we'll have sushi'. It was difficult to hide. I went to the bathroom every break and leafed through my little Ana book. (Editor's note: A small pocket book in which the points system, motivational texts and pictures can be found, damif you don't lose sight of your goal) I hid myself there so that no one would take me to the café and tempt me to eat.

There's a lot of calculation behind that. Did you get to the point that food was your enemy and you punished yourself for eating?

Yes, in any case. I cut myself for a while whenever I ate too much or did too little exercise. At some point I switched, let a rubber band slip, pinched myself or bit my knuckles.

How is that with the Topic dying? Is that something like the goal?

One is slipping in a suicidal direction quickly anyway. It was the same with me. The goal is to “fade”, so “to become an angel”. Nobody would officially call it dying, but it is in everything. Ana's goal is to commit insidious suicide in principle. In the end, that's exactly what it is.

If you are interested in Prothinks or TV formats like “Germanys Next Top Model” and you watch the women there - do you have the feeling that the women are healthy or the lifestyle they showigen is good?

What is being shown is by no means good. At Ana times, Germany's Next Top Model was a must. That was the propaganda series that only exists on television. I haven't watched it since I've been out. I also blocked all channels and hashtags on Twitter and blocked the suggestions for the pages on Instagram. In principle, this series shows everything that Ana says to you, but not so directly and so embellished that you can show it on television. If there was no current season, you watched reruns. I knew what they were eating, I knew what sport they were doing. I knew everything.

What would you advise 12- or 13-year-old children to feel about their bodies?

(laughs) That's the sentence you always hear. 'Feel good the way you are'. This is very difficult, especially nowadays, because you are bombarded with the slim ideal of beauty from everywhere, especially on the Internet.

: Kendra Smielowski


Pro Ana: Movement that glorifies anorexia nervosa (anorexia) and presents it as a lifestyle.
Ana: A nickname both for the personified anorexia, which is addressed to the followers as "girlfriend Ana" in the letters, and for the followers themselves who call themselves that.
Thinspiration: Images of (mostly) slim women that followers (Anas) use to motivate themselves; is made up of "thin" and "inspiration"
Ana letters: Letters addressed to followers in an aggressive form trying to make it clear that anorexia is the way to go.
Ten Commandments: Also a motivational text that uses ten points to show what being “Ana” means and why it is worth striving for.
Mia: Short form of Bulimia (eating-vomiting-addiction), to be understood as the “little sister” of “Ana”.