• Thu, Jan 9 - 1:30 pm ET

Thought Catalog Irresponsibly Runs A Pro-Ana Essay

eating disorderThought Catalog, a blog that simply catalogues any thoughts from my fellow millennials in the form of essays, listicles and the whatnot, published a post yesterday that the editors maybe should have reconsidered. How bad is it? Well, I’ve looked into the darkest dregs of the internet’s pro-ana world and this anonymously written post would fit right there seamlessly. For those who somehow don’t know, pro-ana is short for pro-anorexia–it’s an internet thing. Those who are pro-ana practically worship eating disorders, maintain the idea that to have an eating disorder is a choice and that those afflicted should be left alone.

The anonymous post, entitled “I Love My Eating Disorder” sounds like it was written by someone pro-ana, rather than someone with an eating disorder. The essay starts off:

People talk about eating disorders like they are the worst thing in the world and always bad. But here’s a fact to consider, I don’t live in a vaccuum. I am out here in the real world. An eating disorder might be “bad” but is it really worse than being fat? Than being alone? Than hating myself?

First of all, yes, having a mental illness is worse than being fat and being alone. Having an eating disorder is a manifestation of self hatred. They are always bad. The rest of the essay manages to be just as flippant about eating disorders and bodies in general.

I feel like a judgmental dick for even thinking it, but due to the content of the piece and the anonymity of the author, I question the legitimacy of their disorder. To my insensitive eyes, this post read more like a pro-ana diary entry than the words of someone afflicted with a serious disease. It’s like the author went through a list of the rules of pro-ana, but not the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders before writing it. Maybe she just confuses food restriction and weight loss with the actual disease, but a diet does not an eating disorder make. Perhaps this post should have been called “I Love Being Skinny” rather than “I Love My Eating Disorder.” Regardless, whoever wrote this has some pretty fucked up and unhealthy ideas about her body, the world and recovery.

Here are a selection of primo quotations from the essay before we get into what’s wrong the existence of this piece on a website like Thought Catalog:

I work hard and challenge myself every day to lose the weight I need to so that I will be beautiful. Not just beautiful, untouchable. I’ll be the girl on Tumblr that serves as an inspiration for others.

Thin=desirable. This is one of the major tenets not necessarily of eating disorders, but the pro-ana movement that glorifies them out of competitive thinness.

 I count calories, I make sure I can make it to the end of the day on as little calories as possible without caving in and eating the entire refrigerator. If I feel I am going to give in, I take a sleeping pill so that I can just take myself out of the tempting situation.

Cool starving tip: pop sleeping pills to keep from eating at night. They used to call this the Sleeping Beauty Diet.

As a woman, if you want to have a great job and a great boyfriend, you have to be hot. I’m so sick of people pretending this isn’t true.

Thin = successful. This is another pro-ana, but not DSM eating disorder, principle. While this is partially true and we live in a shallow world where fat people and ugly people are discriminated against, she’s delusional if she thinks you have to straight up be her definition of “hot” in order to find love or a career. Please.

It’s my choice to be unhealthy and not be in recovery for my ED. It’s no different than any other unhealthy person that has the right to live their own life

Eating disorders = a choice. Another bit of pro-ana dogma. I agree that people should live however they want and I don’t give a fuck or care to interfere with anyone’s beeswax, but EDs aren’t cigarettes or drugs and they aren’t a lifestyle. Anorexia, bulimia and the rest are diseases. Recovering from an eating disorder does not automatically make someone fat, just recovered from a disease.

Not that I expect better from Thought Catalog, a blog known for having basically no standards at all, but come on. This essay encourages eating disorders. Publishing this is both exploitive and irresponsible. If the author actually is deep in the throes of a life threatening eating disorder (and as far as mental illnesses go, eating disorders are very life threatening), the site should not publish her love letter to her disease in order to procure clicks or to be edgy. Making this essay available for anyone to read is irresponsible. It’s not just that it’s deliberately “triggering” but also reinforcing some dangerous ideas about ED perpetuated by the pro-ana community.

Whoever wrote this might be in need of some help, if she isn’t, Thought Catalog basically just published a parody of old pro-ana LiveJournal entries written by a catfish. If she is, they just exploited a sick person. Regardless of the actual diagnosis of the author, no one should be rewarded for celebrating a sickness with such a raging mortality rate.

Image via Shutterstock

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  • Lindsey Conklin

    Oh, I’m so glad you wrote this. I saw this posted and thought the same thing!

    • Joanna Rafael

      :) Thanks Lindsey. It truly means a lot to hear this from you because of the way you eloquently handled discussing eating disorders in this post –> http://bit.ly/18BevBP

  • CMJ

    This post was so irresponsibly horrible. She also linked a RooshV/MRA site as proof of the fact that men like skinny women.

    • Joanna Rafael

      WTF was that about? Yikes.

  • elle

    As somebody who used to frequent pro-ana sites back in the days when I was really deep in my ed (don’t judge me, I was super lonely, desperate, and awkward) this definitely reads more “wannarexic” than actually suffering from an ED to me too.

    • Joanna Rafael

      ding ding ding and no judgments, what do you think I was doing on pro-ana sites?

  • Jenna

    I am currently struggling with bulimia (and have been for about 8 years). I’ve also spent copious amounts of time on “pro-ana” sites. Believe me when I say that this is not the view of most of the population. They do not at all believe it is a choice. What you listed above is a view of someone who represents maybe 1% of the disordered population. Next time you make a post about eating disorders, I suggest you actually consult someone who has/had an eating disorder.

    • Joanna Rafael

      What makes you think I don’t have or never have had an eating disorder?

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Next time you comment, you should verify whether or not you’re speaking to somebody who has had an eating disorder.

  • Fabel

    “Not that I expect better from Thought Catalog, a blog known for having basically no standards at all” <– Christ thank you, we need more people shitting in Thought Catolog to balance out seemingly everyone on every social media feed linking to posts from it, being like ~*so deep*~

    • Joanna Rafael

      Oh boy, I was under the impression that everyone was on board with the idea that TC is a joke.

  • Cee

    Thought Catalog runs something irresponsible?! Oh wait, yes, that happens all the time over there