Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Cult of Ana

Over two years ago, on this very blog, back when it was, um, something worth reading, a Lonestar guest blogging friend introduced us to the disturbing world of Ana. Over the years, it has proven to be one of the most frequently hit posts, mostly via Google, in Silentio's short history.

I call your attention to it today because, apparently, it's not gone away. Maybe it was naive to think it was only a passing fad. Mark Morford explains:

Just when you thought you'd seen it all, now comes the news that teenage girls are forming new, secret online clubs.

Not just any clubs, mind, but sassy nutball cultlike clubs whose leaders tell their followers what to eat and how to think and how to hide their big ugly secrets, their neurosis, their imminent damage, and they even have a unifying fashion symbol: they all wear little red wristbands to show their weird solidarity, their allegiance to a warped and unhappy goddess who goes by the name of Ana.

This is true. This is happening now. And you may, at this point, think it's all cute and good and Net-friendly and you might say, aww, how great is that, lonely lost teenage girls finding each other online and making new friends and worshipping some celebrity named Ana, sharing secrets and diet tips and advice and isn't that just the coolest thing? Isn't that just the way of young girls, socializing and sharing and emoting? Isn't that the genius of the Internet?

Why, sure it is. It's all special and warm and funky until you learn, of course, that Ana is short for -- wait for it -- anorexia.

Yessirree. This is what the girls call it. Or, rather, her. Ana is their secret best friend. Ana is their salvation. They draw pictures of her, send her their prayers, recite her creed.

These girls, they love Ana and they want to be with Ana all the time and they have bizarre little support groups who rally the sad and the faithful to love and follow Ana no matter how hungry or sick or shriveled they get (Ana mocks them if they succumb to food), and if they choose not to befriend Ana they can also take a liking to Mia (bulimia) or find a new boyfriend in a totally popular guy named Ed (eating disorder).

This is not a joke. This is not a gimmick.

If only it were.