Thursday, 26 November 2009


There's a woman at my gym who walks on the treadmill at an incline of 15. This really bugs me. It isn't that she's holding on with a white-knuckled grip, struggling to keep the pace. It isn't that I can't possibly walk at an incline of 15 without flying off and causing myself (and others) serious damage. It's because this woman is the size of a broomstick. And no one seems to care.

Every bone in her back protrudes from sallow skin. Stick legs harsh and a face pinched tight. Her slack mouth gasps for air, eyes roll backwards, and I worry she's about to go into cardiac arrest. Whenever she is around I am on edge. I have to force myself to not make a scene. The floor is a refrigerator, my feet are the magnets. Week by week I watch her determination and that incline of 15 killing her.

It gets worse when other gym-goers talk with admiration. 'I wish I had such a small waist,' or 'I wonder how she got arms that thin?' She's been placed on a creepy pedestal and used as thinspiration. I must have a screw lose. They see beauty. I see serious mental issues. And someone crying out for help.

With my increasing worry for treadmill woman (and my need to understand) I found myself researching thinspiration. Hundreds of websites talk lovingly, promoting their best friend Ana. I soon realised who 'Ana' was. How naively clever of them. No one will realise you're Anorexic with such masterful disguise.

A recent article on Fox has suggested that these Pro-Ana websites do not encourage Anorexia because the disorder is biologically based. Furthermore, the idea that websites, blogs and images supposedly encourage eating disorders is not supported by either Science or research. I'm not convinced. Just because a handful of studies haven't found evidence, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

The Pro-Ana message doesn't mean anything to me. It doesn't dwindle my senses or blur my focus on reality. But what about those easily influenced; highly impressionable people who think their hips are too big or their stomachs aren't toned enough? What about the women gazing up at that pedestal in my gym? Ana's message- 'the only thing that matters is being thin'- might mean something to them. And worryingly, it just might get through.

, what do you think?


  1. That is quite unnerving. I think though there's a double standard when so many blame the media for these fears in youth. They need to unbiasedly check their homes first. Every parent warns their child about putting on weight - innocently or not. Children just grow up thinking thin=beautiful.

  2. It is all very scarey. I think the majority of these problems come not only from the media but society in general. We live in a society of extremes, we all want more,more,more! No one is ever satisfied with what they have-their house, their job, their income, their bodies, their partner etc. etc. We all seek perfection. When are we going to wake up and smell the coffee-nothing is perfect!!! Even God himself made a few boo boos when creating earth etc- just look at that evil wench Eve! I am sure He can not have meant to create all those bugs and creepy crawlies!
    Time for us not to want what others have but to realise "I actually have alot more than others-aren't I lucky"
    And so endeth todays sermon!!!! Happy weekend!

  3. Too bad we don't have such admiration for "the only thing that matters is being healthy."

    Thin is overrated. But good health never goes out of style!

  4. I like girls with something to grab onto.
    Great post...good to see you back!

  5. I think you're right Lou. Good to see you again.

  6. blame the fashion and model industries. they encourage women to be thin as a stick and call that beauty. how many girls were influenced by them?!

  7. I agree with you. Science may not be showing too many links between the pro-anorexia websites and anorexia itself...but what about body image problems and self-esteem problems? Not everyone has to have anorexia as an eating disorder --- there's bulimia or eating disorder not otherwise specified according to the DSM. And while you and I may not be influenced by these websites, I wonder how many teens and tweens are! How many of them hate their bodies? It's a sad state of affairs and is a vicious cycle when it comes to the media and fashion world --- the problem is, there are people out there buying it all, and so these industries are just going to continue marketing the same.

  8. Very good post. Although I do think that perhaps eating disorders are more biological than we realised seeing these triggers is hardly going to help anyone with issues in that area.

  9. Thanks for all the interesting comments everyone!

    I was cautious doing a post on weight issues because i assumed that everyone was sick of hearing about the bloody size zero debate (myself included). However, when i read that fox news article i just had to comment on it.

    I agree that the fashion industry has a lot to answer for, as does the media but I also agree with Kate. Eating disorders are biological. We do have a genetic predisposition. Unfortunately it is the media and fashion which triggers this predisposition in the first place!


  10. Very insightful and a topic near and dear to my heart. It's not just the fashion industry, there are a number of industries which prey on the collective insecurity of women - pharmaceutical, diet/exercise, print/television media, the whole of Hollywood, the beauty industry as well as the food industry.

    Everywhere we turn we are being told that we re not good enough, and here change this.

    There was a study done of a third world country and the change in how young girls view food and themselves once they were exposed to western culture. The rise in eating disorders and low body image was alarming.

    We have children in America as young as five stating that they are fat and need to go on a diet!!! There's something very wrong with that!

  11. People are fat because of a lack of character.


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