CONFESSION: I was a Pro-ED kid.
I was a first generation Pro-ED kid. And I do mean kid. I was about 10 going on 11 years old when I stumbled across the then-small community of pro-ana and pro-mia boards, sites, etc. This was late-90s/early 00’s.
Pro-ED in general had yet to come out. All it was, was Ana and Mia. EDNOS was not acknowledged, you can bet your ass BED was nowhere to be found, and self harm wasn’t spoken about so much. The notion that anyone regardless of size could have an eating disorder was not in belief (hence no EDNOS).
It was just little Ana and Mia playing around with a bunch of teenagers (and younger) who figured it was better to treat diseases as lifestyles, as if it would make it easier to bear.
I was very active on the boards and forums, but I didn’t reveal much about myself at all. I was terrified that if they found out that while I related to them on so many levels, that I was in fact a fat piece of crap, I’d be shunned as much as I was in the real world.
Here I learned all about purging tricks, exposure avoidance, starving, fasting, and calorie restrictions. Ridiculous quotes that hit heavily close to home to commentary I received personally from others growing up were slathered around sites amongst thinspo. I learned about that evil Letter I-starting medicine that is now known as ‘That Which Shall Not Be Named’. If you were part of the start, you certainly know what I’m speaking of.
All in all the community felt like home to me, or more just something I could understand at such a young age. What did I have a clue about, what did anyof us have a clue about? We were all so immature and young, we didn’t know shit about the bigger picture. No matter how oh-so grown up we felt and how mature for our ages we were, we didn’t know shit. If we did, we’d never be feeding such a beast.
There was one place on forums I never went, because it made me feel sick. It was the flame boards/burn boards. Specifically there for people who were in fear of eating to request others to berate them and call them horrible, horrible things, to stop themselves. To enlist the help of others to treat you like absolute shit, even at the young age I was, I knew was wrong. Especially from my all too early starting experience of just that in real life.
As I and other members got older, and the whole Pro-ED community grew, the media caught wind. Sites were shut down, others placed disclaimers, the values of what Pro-ED was began to shift.
I was in my mid-teens when the shift seemed to fully change. It was no longer some stupid ideal of lifestyle and congratulating those who damaged their bodies to the near-full extent. It was much like how it is now - People who have an ED, but are not yet ready to go into recovery, so they seek support and understanding from those similar. It was support in the struggle, not glorifying the misery.
Tips were no longer allowed, the evil medicine was given a full write-up of what damage it truly did do, Burn Boards were strictly forbidden in place of positive support. Recovery subsections on forums and boards popped up.
The results of some of us who met their demise through their disease were publicized for those to see the reality, and a clear snapshot of just what it was like was put up in point form for those thinking that EDs were a diet.
We had matured, and came to understand more of the bigger picture, and with that, the values of the community had changed.
I was the nutritionist so to speak, for many years on different boards. It was the one thing I knew extremely well, and being able to help others to learn more was probably the only positive thing that came from being part of the whole miserable (and it was certainly miserable) experience of being so heavily involved in the Pro-ED community.
There was a small ray of hope that came from the shift. No one wanted anyone else to suffer. It was a genuine wish for no one to suffer the same way, and maybe save each other from the regret of our own stupidity and our constant misery. And there were a lot of us.
Slowly we began to leave. We got to a point where we could no longer be associated with something that was so vile. Perhaps the shame was just too much, I know I don’t look back with fond memories and it only adds to my regretful belief of just how stupid I was and I am.
Some went on to get better, which was wonderful. Some of us obviously didn’t make it out so easily, we simply just left.
I don’t regret leaving. I don’t regret that even though there were some changes, I still didn’t want association. I was around 17 when I finally left for good.
What horrifies me and perplexes me now, that only a few years later the next generation, or maybe even the generation after that, have learned nothing from what we left. They have just gone back to the very beginning, spouting the same shit we did, doing the same stupid things we did. No one looked at the legacy of misery and stupidity and change we left and went “Hey, something’s with this.”.
You’re still giving out tips. You’re still criticizing each other’s bodies with no thought of the damage it does. You’re still being oh-so-helpful saying such cruel things to one another. You’re still treating it like it’s some stupid game you can turn off when you’re bored with it.
Have you truly learned nothing from your elders?
I fear for the future. I fear what it means for what you will teach the next group of people who come, if you can’t even bother to recognize the struggle and damage we caused and tried to set right.
Maybe my experience was singular compared to other girl’s experiences in that time of Pro-ED culture. But I still cannot wrap my head around how so many couldn’t notice what had changed, and so blatantly disregard it to go back to the miserable and disastrous beginning.
If ignorance is as high as this seems to be, the folly of the Pro-ED concept will be long before it dies out.
- reinedeglace posted this