Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Cult of Ana

Until this society accepts women who are NOT some bizarre, idealized, unattainable male fantasy, until the entertainment industry gets in touch with reality and casts women who aren't a size 0, until the print media stops putting out magazines with headlines that read: "Lose 10 lbs. in 5 days" next to "The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe," this kind of self-destruction will continue:

Cult-Like Lure of 'Ana' Attracts Anorexics


CHICAGO - They call her "Ana." She is a role model to some, a goddess to others — the subject of drawings, prayers and even a creed. She tells them what to eat and mocks them when they don't lose weight. And yet, while she is a very real presence in the lives of many of her followers, she exists only in their minds.

Ana is short for anorexia, and — to the alarm of experts — many who suffer from the potentially fatal eating disorder are part of an underground movement that promotes self-starvation and, in some cases, has an almost cult-like appeal.

Followers include young women and teens who wear red Ana bracelets and offer one another encouraging words of "thinspiration" on Web pages and blogs.

They share tips for shedding pounds and faithfully report their "cw" and "gw" — current weight and goal weight, which often falls into the double digits. They also post pictures of celebrity role models, including teen stars Lindsay Lohan and Mary-Kate Olsen, who last year set aside the acting career and merchandising empire she shares with her twin sister to seek help for her own eating disorder.


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