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									Running head: IS BEING SKINNY WORTH IT?                       1

                              Is Being Skinny Worth It?

                                   Alyssa Moriartey

                            Saginaw Valley State University
IS BEING SKINNY WORTH IT?                                                                            2

                                    Is Being Skinny Worth It?

       Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder which causes people to have extreme food

restrictions and an irrational fear of gaining weight. They typically have a distorted body image

of themselves. They constantly watch how much they eat and also what they are eating. Many

people that are anorexic try to eat very little amounts, if anything, but most people with anorexia

nervosa just starve themselves. They do this because they are fearful of gaining any weight.

They always want to be skinnier and skinnier. When people with anorexia nervosa do lose

weight, it is never enough. That is because they perceive themselves as being heavier than they

really are. They always think they are fat or not skinny enough. This is why being anorexic

usually involves irrationally, excessive weight loss.

       Some people can have bulimia and anorexia nervosa while others can have just one or the

other. Bulimia is an eating disorder caused when people consume large amounts of food in a

short period of time and then force the food out of their system. Normally this happens after

someone has fasted for an extensive amount of time. This is called binge eating. After binge

eating the person feels bad about what they did and realizes that they are going to gain weight.

They try to avoid this by getting rid of the food they just consumed by purging. Bulimics can do

this by vomiting or taking laxatives. With either of these ways, they try to force the food out of

their system. These are not healthy, although they are healthier than starving because their body

will still get some nutrition. While purging, you can never get everything out of your system

because your body starts digesting the moment the food enters your body.

       There are two different beliefs on anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Some people that are

anorexic and bulimic believe that acting in these ways is just a chosen way of life. They believe
IS BEING SKINNY WORTH IT?                                                                           3

that they can control what they are doing to themselves. In reality, anorexia nervosa and bulimia

are eating disorders. They are both illnesses that require help to recover. Neither anorexia

nervosa nor bulimia is easily controlled by one’s self. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are not a

way of life, they are disorders.

       People become anorexic and bulimic for control. They do not have the ability to cope

with their daily life and stress. They feel as if there is nothing they can control, for example,

parents getting a divorce. The child cannot control any of the things that go on in a divorce of

their parents so they need to control something else. Some people choose to control things like

grades and make sure they are doing very well in their classes while others try to control their

body. This results in anorexia nervosa or bulimia. They can no longer control their life or

something that is causing stress in their life so they choose to control the intake of foods. This is

why people think that it is a controllable way of life. Once they start this though, it gets

“addicting” and they just want more and more. Being anorexic and bulimic is like a drug to their

body. They always want to be skinnier and when they accomplish this, they want to do it again

to lose more weight. Therefore, they are losing control. It is not just a diet anymore or

something they once could control, it has become an uncontrollable illness. They no longer can

stop and do not have the desire to do so. Once they have gotten this far, they go online and

search pro ana and pro mia websites to help them lose more weight and at a faster pace.

       According to a pro ana website, “Anorexia is a lifestyle, not a disease” (Jade, 2012). The

pro ana websites are made to encourage people to lose weight. They try to brainwash you into

believing you are never too skinny. When an anorexic person goes on the pro ana site, he or she

is looking for encouragement and helpful hints on how to continue to lose weight. One thing

they use for encouragement or as rules would be the “Thin Commandments.” The “Thin
IS BEING SKINNY WORTH IT?                                                                                4

Commandments” are, “1) If you are not thin, you are not attractive. 2) Being thin is more

important than being healthy. 3) You must buy baggy clothes, cut your hair, and take laxatives.

You must do anything to make you look thinner. 4) Thou shall not eat without feeling guilty. 5)

Thou shall not eat fattening food without punishing afterwards. 6) Thou shall count calories and

restrict intake accordingly. 7) What the scale says is the most important thing. 8) Losing weight

is good, gaining weight is bad. 9) You can never be too thin. 10) Being thin and not eating are

signs of true will power and success” (Jade, 2012). The “Thin Commandments” are telling

people that it is okay to be anorexic and that there is not a single problem with doing these things

to your body. It is telling people that it is better than anything to be skinny. In fact, it is giving

instructions on how to do it. People who follow this website will get brainwashed into thinking

that it is alright to act like this. Also, once they begin, they feel like they are in control of it,

therefore thinking that it is a chosen way of life instead of an illness.

        Another website that is along the same lines as the pro ana website is the pro mia website.

The pro mia website is for bulimia instead of anorexia and is set up about the same. The pro mia

website states that it is “The belief that bulimia is a lifestyle. It means that our concentration at

the moment is to simply lose weight” (Pro Thin, 2009). The pro mia websites intentions are not

to help you starve like the pro ana website, but to help you purge after you have eaten. The pro

mia website gives you ways to make sure you get the most out after eating. To do this the pro

mia website tells you to vomit, take laxatives and do excessive exercising. For example, the pro

mia website says, “‘Markers’ are good tricks. Low fat green, orange or yellow Jell-O is a

GREAT choice. This way, when you purge you can insure that everything is out once your

marker is up” (Pro Thin, 2009). The concept of the marker is to eat that first so you know when

you have gotten everything out of your system. This is telling people that it is good to purge and
IS BEING SKINNY WORTH IT?                                                                              5

not have food left in your stomach. By doing this you are causing many problems to your entire

body. Another tip they give people on the pro mia website is, “Once you think you are finished

purging, drink a big glass of water, do a couple of sit ups and go for it again. MORE food will

come up!” (Pro Thin, 2009). This is encouraging people to preoccupy their entire life with trying

not to gain weight and more and more people follow this website and think it is okay to do so.

These people believe that they are just choosing this as a way of life and do not realize that it is

an illness and that they will need help to recover.

        These people that go on the pro ana and pro mia websites and follow what the websites

say, think that they are doing this as a way of life. They think that they can choose to stop

whenever they would like to, but they just choose not to. “Only one in ten people with eating

disorders receive treatment” (Eating Disorder Statistics, 2006). This is because people do not

want help because they think that nothing is wrong and that they are in control, which is

completely untrue. According to S. McDowell, who had anorexia nervosa and bulimia for about

fourteen months before recovering, “I was not controlling it, it was controlling me” (personal

communication, October 25, 2012). This means that there is no way that it is a chosen way of

life like the pro ana and pro mia websites say. People that have not yet recovered are still telling

themselves that they are controlling it and are choosing not to recover. If they are lucky enough

to recover with help, then hopefully they will realize that anorexia nervosa and bulimia are not a

lifestyle, but are actually illnesses.

        There are websites that do not encourage anorexia nervosa and bulimia. They are called

pro recovery websites. There are many different kinds, but they all have many things in

common. They all have ways in which they are different than the pro ana and pro mia sites, such

as how they do not agree with those sites. They state how the pro ana and pro mia sites are
IS BEING SKINNY WORTH IT?                                                                             6

misleading people to believe that anorexia nervosa and bulimia are lifestyles and not illnesses.

Also, the pro recovery websites have types of treatment and a place to find treatment that

includes phone numbers. It also has ways to cope and to motivate people with anorexia nervosa

and bulimia that want to quit, but might not want help quite yet. Others that are getting

professional help may find motivation in these pro recovery websites to do a little more on their

own. On the website, “Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders,” there are many games to

help people recover. One game is the “In Ten Years Game.” For this game you have to answer

two questions: Where do you see yourself in ten years if you still have your Eating Disorder?

And where do you see yourself in ten years if you recover from your Eating Disorder? When

you are done answering the two questions it says to list at least three to five constructive things

you can do, or try to do, to help you move one step closer to recovery. There are two rules

though, none of your answers can have anything at all to do with weight or losing weight and

you have to try to keep you answer to each question at or below about five hundred words.

(Eating Disorders Anorexia, Bulimia & Compulsive Overeating, 2007) These types of games

are to help people with anorexia nervosa and bulimia see their life in the future and how different

it could be if they still have those illnesses or if they recover and do not. They will have a better

and healthier life if they choose the life without anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

       Anorexia nervosa and bulimia can affect you and your body not just while you are

actively being anorexic and bulimic, but also for your entire life after you recover. According to

a website called Help Guide, while you are losing weight unhealthily by being anorexic and

bulimic, you have severe mood swings and depression, you have a lack of energy, slowed

thinking and poor memory. Also your skin will be dry and have a yellowish color to it and you

will have brittle nails. You could have constipation, bloating, tooth decay and gum damage.
IS BEING SKINNY WORTH IT?                                                                           7

You may be dizzy, faint and have headaches and much more. (Smith & Segal, 2012) When you

are doing this much harm to your body you have to realize that it is not healthy and that you must

be creating lasting damage too. While being anorexic and bulimic, you damage just about every

important part of your body, including your brain and nerves, hair, heart, blood, muscle and

joints, kidneys, body fluids, intestines, hormones and your skin. Not many people realize how

much they are damaging by trying to drastically control their eating.

       There are about seven billion people in this world and twenty four million people suffer

from an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa. “Eating disorders have the highest

mortality rate of any mental illness” (ANAD, 2012). So according to the National Association of

Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, ANAD, anorexia nervosa and bulimia are a mental

illness and not a way of life. Not only are they both mental illnesses, but they have the highest

death rate of any mental illness! According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health,

DMH, “The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is twelve times higher than the death

rate of ALL causes of death for females fifteen to twenty four years old” (Eating Disorder

Statistics, 2006). All of these statistics prove that anorexia nervosa and bulimia are not a chosen

way of life, they are both illnesses. If this was not true and this was just a lifestyle people choose

to live, they would not choose to take it as far as some people do. Also there would not be as

many deaths from anorexia nervosa and bulimia if it was something controllable. Therefore

anorexia nervosa and bulimia are mental illnesses that require a professional’s help to recover.

       If people do not learn more about anorexia nervosa and bulimia soon, then more and

more people will continue to become anorexic and bulimic every year and die. They need to try

to stop websites like pro ana and pro mia from encouraging women and men to do these harmful

things to their body. Also, doctors need to promote websites like pro recovery. According to
IS BEING SKINNY WORTH IT?                                                                        8

U.S. News Health, “Approximately 40 percent of American girls ages nine and ten report being

or having been on a diet to lose weight” (2012). These are children in about fourth grade that are

already beginning to try to lose weight. The percentages of anorexic and bulimic people in the

United States will continue to grow if people do not know that being anorexic and bulimic is not

a chosen lifestyle and is not controllable. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are mental illnesses and

not a chosen way of life.
IS BEING SKINNY WORTH IT?                                                                        9


Eating disorder statistics. (2006). Retrieved November 18, 2012, from

Eating disorders. (2012). Retrieved November 23, 2012, from


Eating disorders anorexia, bulimia & compulsive overeating. (2007). Retrieved November 20,

       2012, from

Jade., (2012, November 18). Anorexia is a lifestyle, not a disease: [Web log post to Blogger].

       Retrieved from

National association of anorexia nervosa and associated disorders. (2012). Retrieved November

       20, 2012, from


Pro thin. (2009). Retrieved November 18, 2012, from

Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2012). Anorexia Nervosa Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment. Retrieved November 18, 2012 from

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