Jewish World Review Feb. 28, 2003 / 26 Adar I, 5763

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

When Anorexia is a good thing


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Among the vast array of stupidities to which our great nation is prone, I have found a new one. It is called the "Pro Anorexia" movement. A series of web sites, called things like ANOREXIC NATION, ANA'S UNDERGROUND GROTTO, and THE THIN PAGE, offer a kind of punky aesthetic, devoted to the proposition that starving to death is preferable to a long life on a full stomach. Being thin is more valuable than life, health, or happiness. Ana's Underground Grotto features this disclaimer: "This is a pro-ana website. That means this is a place where anorexia is regarded as a lifestyle and a choice, not an illness or disorder. There are no victims here."

Now, I don't went to get into the health issues --- these brave anorexics will waste away to nothing soon enough, and their heroic efforts will have gone for nothing. But the notion that anorexia is a lifestyle I find puzzling. I thought a lifestyle involved the equivalent of hobbies: you enjoy the skiing lifestyle, or the extreme sports lifestyle, or the party lifestyle. Anorexia, as I understand, involves not eating. How can not doing something be considered a lifestyle? If they were monks, maybe, they could call it fasting, but most of them are not monks, they're disturbed teenage girls.

On the flip side, is obesity a lifestyle? It seems to be a way of life anyway, for those of us who aren't a defiant bag of skin and bones, subsisting entirely on the fumes from sugar free gum and rage. But they've never sued McDonald's, have they?

Dismissing a recent lawsuit by a group of obese New York teens who said McDonalds made them fat, the judge noted, "If consumers know the potential ill health effects of eating at McDonald's, they cannot blame McDonald's if they, nonetheless, choose to satiate their appetite with supersized McDonald's products."

And I suppose if "pro-ana" advocates know the ill health effects of not eating, and choose nonetheless to satiate their appetite by not eating, they cannot blame food if they wither away to nothing.

Say, McDonald's Isn't doing so well these days, even though they did win this legal judgment. Maybe they need to sue anorexics, for not devouring their supersized foodstuffs, thereby taking money from their pockets.

Maybe not though. If anorexics are found guilty, they might have to go to prison. And you know what that means, don't you? That's right. Hunger strikes.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.

Up

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© 2001, Ian Shoales