My last post had an unexpected response. A girl messaged me pretty soon after I published it, and she talked about how Pro Ana was her entire life, and was the reason behind her developing anorexia. Whilst reading her message, I was intrigued by the confession, as she spoke about her experience with running a Pro Ana page, and I’ve always wanted to know the reasoning behind these pages, and the mindset of the the person running each account. I asked to speak to her about everything she’d mentioned, and she agreed wholeheartedly. I approached the conversation with no assumptions and holding nothing against her for what she was involved in during her past (I honestly applauded her bravery for admitting it). The conversation was insightful and surprising, with her telling me information that made perfect sense, but information I would never have thought of. It was such a good opportunity to see the other side of Pro Ana, the side that very little is known of, and a lot of presumptions are inflicted towards.
I’m willing to answer any questions you have. Thank you for opening the conversation!
Ok cool I’ll just ask a few questions and if you feel uncomfortable with any you don’t have to answer! X
thank you, I’ve always felt super worried about what people in this community would think of me because you know I’ve seen captions talking about how pro Ana is disgusting and horrible and the people are horrible, and I never know what to say because I feel so bad about it.
What made you start a Pro Ana account? What did you feel you would achieve?
I have always felt like I needed a space to rant and share my problems without my parents knowing. I had a spam account where I would do that, but then they found and followed it, so I wanted a new way. My calorie obsession started with an assignment for health class where I had to track what I was eating for 5 days. I was already having troubles with anxiety and then I saw a few of these accounts on my explore page on insta and kinda got sucked into the rabbit hole. I had started restricting, but not too bad. I wanted to follow these accounts because they had some of the same struggles as me and I could relate. Also, I wanted to be like the pictures they posted. I couldn’t follow them on my normal Instagram because I was afraid that people would see that I was following them and ask me about it. So at first, it was just to follow them. And I started posting about myself, finding my own thinspo and reading advice that they gave. Some of the accounts would only accept similar accounts, so that’s what I made mine. I started posting thinspo of me or complaining about how much I had eaten, and also seeing how little other people could eat wanted me to eat that little as well.
At the time, did you view anorexia as a choice/ lifestyle? Has your view changed at all.
I’ve always been a very competitive person, and so I wanted to be the best at anorexia, even though I don’t know if I actually had an eating disorder at that point or was just trying to. So at first it was a choice. I would look up “how to be anorexic” or “lowest amount of calories needed to stay alive” and then try to do less than that. I felt that this was something that I could be the best at, I wanted to achieve perfect control and willpower. At the time, I was dancing ballet 20 hours a week just as part of my training because I wanted to become a professional ballerina, and I was having trouble with my body not doing what I wanted it to. I figured that this was a way that I could make myself “look better” while also showing myself that I had control over my body.
What was the ultimate goal with having a pro ana account?
I’d post me and my “progress” and then people would DM me asking how I did it. I would tell them what I did and tips to get around family or friends asking or how to have enough “willpower” to not eat. I even had an ana buddy and we would send each other pictures of us and talk about how we would avoid eating. My parents were looking at my phone one day when a notification popped up from someone DMing me, and they opened it and looked at everything. I started treatment soon after that, and they deleted everything, so now I have no record of what that was like. I would have liked to be able to go back at some point and look at how sick I actually was because I struggle with feeling like I never got sick enough. I mean, I was only struggling for a month and a half before they found out.
Do you mind me asking if you ever felt guilty sharing tips, encouraging others to follow the same path as you?
I’ve always felt like it was a choice for me, and I’m kind of still of the mindset that it’s a choice and I could stop if I wanted. I just recently opened up to my therapist about that, and we’re working through it. everyone says, “eating disorders are not a choice” so then I feel like I don’t actually have an eating disorder, I’m just a bad person. Idk, it’s causing a lot of problems for me right now in my recovery. I felt a little guilty, but not a lot at the time. Honestly, I felt like this was just my way of living and other people could join too. I didn’t really know about how much harm it could cause, and by the time I learned that, I felt I deserved the pain and the harm anyways because my mindset had slowly shifted without me even realizing it.
What age were you when you started the pro Ana page? Also I’m assuming it was an Instagram
It was Instagram, and I was 14 and a half
Did the whole Pro Ana thing seem addictive?
Yes, definitely. I felt like I always wanted more and I couldn’t leave if I wanted to because I would go back.
What was it that you found addictive?
Looking at thinspo, striving to be the “best,” other people’s comments about my “progress,” and just proving to myself that I could have as much “control” as the other girls.
So there you have it. A conversation with a girl who was once the owner of a Pro Ana page. This conversation really shifted my view in terms of Pro Ana and the intent behind these pages. This post is in no way an attempt to say that Pro Ana is ok, as it is something which can cause serious damage to people’s lives. If you do find a Pro Ana page of any kind, please report it. The people running them will likely not see a problem with what they we’re doing, and need help before they can.
Links to ED helplines can be found here.
Stay safe and strong,