Jewish World Review Feb. 28, 2003 / 26 Adar I, 5763
When Anorexia is a good thing
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.
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
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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.
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© 2001, Ian Shoales