30 3 / 2012
Anonymous asked: How do you feel about the whole thinspo thing on tumblr and pinterest? it makes me confused because of on the one hand your heart breaks when you see "pro-anorexia" blogs and pictures but on the other you want to just reach out and show some support to whatever the girls are going through, in either situation the girl loses her agency, she's either A) in need of saving and nutritional advice or B) a victim of this fucked up society. How do you give the girl agency?
[Trigger warning: Eating disorders, body shame]
Ah, jeez. I’ve been puzzling over how to answer this one.
This is an issue near to my heart. I’ve struggled with disordered eating for about 16 years, which is more than half my life. At my most symptomatic - when my parents staged an intervention and I started to be medically and mentally treated - I can tell you that I was someone who could not in any way be reasoned with. Bluntly put, I was a total asshole. The example I like to give when people ask “But how much of an asshole, Clara?” is the following scenario:
I was 17 and in my final year of highschool. My friend’s twin brother (triplet brother? there were three of ‘em) used to drive me to the gym after class every day (I was purging everything I ate, and then would run for an hour on the treadmill, then 45 minutes on the elliptical). One day, he had rugby practice and couldn’t drive me. I stood in the student parking lot screaming at him and crying, alternately begging him to please please please just drop me off and come back, and berating him for not being able to take me. In short, I had a total public shitfit.
So why am I telling you this? Oh my gosh. You gotta know. In highschool, I was already a loud, outspoken feminist. I would criticize body-shaming media at any turn. I fucking loved reading any critique of dominant cultures with prescribed notions of what bodies should look like.
And really sadly, it just didn’t “save” me. Nor did “nutritional advice”, which I received in spades. Unfortunately, the only thing that did indeed save me from kidney failure (that was the big thing - I was not alarmingly skinny, but my internal organs were shutting down) was being dragged against my will to a medical facility.
I was mad as all fuck. I was infuriated. But I also felt defeated.
It took me years more to become asymptomatic. Years. Years of therapy, of psychiatric drugs, etc.
Let me be clear: I think “thinspo” and “pro-ana” and “pro-mia” blogs are fucked. I think these ideas are rooted in hatred - self-based or otherwise. “Thinspo” wasn’t a thing when I was a kid, but pro-ana and -mia message boards and forums were. I frequented them. I wish I hadn’t. I wish they didn’t exist. I feel so fucking triggered whenever I see them. But I just don’t know if anything would be different if they were gone.
I’m sorry that I don’t know how to answer your question. I can only give you my experience - that I ferociously bit every hand that tried to reach out to me. The only thing I can think of to do is put all my love out there as hard as I can and hope that it’ll eventually sink in with someone. Even if it’s just for a day. Even if it’s just for an hour. If someone looks at something I’ve drawn and feels even a moment of relief from the terror and heartbreak that is disordered eating - well, that’s all I can hope for.