My name is Ana, my friend Mia.

It is a scientifically recognised fact that anorexia and bulimia are eating disorders, a serious illness by the books. However is it wrong to suggest that instead of them being characterised as psychological disorders, it could in-fact be a lifestyle choice, a choice that by virtue of being human, everyone is entitled to? Is it wrong to promote it, promote the movement, promote websites that categorically advice and suggest ‘unhealthy’ (I use this term in quotes because this is subjective) means to become and remain thin? I say, no.

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”- Kate Moss

People turn to anorexia and bulimia in search for an emaciated perfection and why shouldn’t they? Today, we live in a society where being ‘thin’ is the absolute. A little bit of fat here or there is looked at in utter disgust. ‘Fat’ is intolerable. Normally, if the fear of putting on weight is present, we resort to eating less, deny the pleasure of eating well and work out more. That in some ways gives us satisfaction, at least psychologically. Ironically, this is perfectly acceptable.  The pro-ana/mia movements advocate the same with the exception that their methods are a tad bit more intensive. It is unfair to characterise these methods as unhealthy. We undermine the extreme hard-work they put into losing weight which is ironic because hard-work is always appreciated. In many ways we are a hypocritical society, one where judgements and rulings are passed off easily without ever considering the bigger picture.

Ethically speaking, it is one’s fundamental right to choose to live the way they wish to. Applying the rules of Principlism here, we see that the pro-ana/mia movements are not a breach to any sort of ethical violation. Principlism is a system of ethics based on four moral principles of Autonomy (free-will), Beneficence (to provide benefits), Non –maleficence (to do no harm) and Justice (social distribution of benefits and burdens).  To embrace the pro-ana/mia lifestyle is a matter of choice and free-will, one that everybody is entitled to by virtue of one’s Autonomy and thus has no right to be subjected to others decisions and judgements. The pro-ana/mia movements have proven to be beneficial to those who have accepted it as part of their lifestyle. This can be seen by the increase of traffic of websites that promote both anorexia and bulimia. These websites suggest ways and means to become thin and to embrace it. Evidently, this has shown results and people have reported being happy both physically and mentally. The practise is non-maleficent in nature because it isn’t inducing harm. People who have accepted this culture as their own have reported being better off than before. Being thin is a confidence booster and that has a significant impact on a person psychologically. Finally, Justice, if the practise has proven to be beneficial to some, then it is in one’s right to distribute it or to spread it. Thus, these websites are within their right to promote the culture. Moreover, ‘the size zero’ revolution was as a result of these movements, it was socially accepted and that is why it grew so popular. This goes to prove my point, when convenient these movements are socially acceptable while otherwise, they are not. This displays the fickle-mindedness of society.

It was not before long where homosexuality was ruled out as a psychological disorder and socially accepted as a natural phenomenon. I believe that these movements too will soon see a ray of sunshine beckoning at its feet. What is important is that this is a lifestyle choice; one governed by one’s free-will and therefore is in no one’s right to be breached or enforced upon by other lifestyle choices. The sooner we realise this, the sooner we can move ahead.

– Namrata Kumar


4 responses to “My name is Ana, my friend Mia.

  1. I don’t think being Anorexic is a choice. It is as much a choice as alcoholism is. You can decide to make a lifestyle choice to remain thin and even subscribe to unhealthy eating habits to achieve this end. But that by no means ,make that person anorexic.Because that person is able to make a choice to stop herself/ himself at a certain point. ( Someone who drinks alcohol everyday cannot be termed an alcoholic as long as he can stop his habit if chooses to. )Anorexia is a form of addiction where the state of one’s ‘free will’ is compromised. The patient herself/ himself needs assistance to come out of this situation.
    My point is we should not take the idea of free will to expand its definition to justify every possible situation or we will talk about Suicide also as an exercise of free will ( I am sure there are proponents of this too).


    • Let me begin by apologizing for replying late. Second, while I understand your point, I have to disagree with you. Suicide by all means is an exercise of free will but to the more important issue, Pro-ana/mia cannot be equated to Alcoholism. In my opinion it is not an addiction. When you are addicted to something, the role of the consciousness is absent,mind-body dependence is lost. Whereas in this case, you are completely aware and in control of your actions and the repercussions that follow. The mind is in control of the body plus the concept of the mind being faulty in such a circumstance is subjective. That being the case, you have every right to exercise your free will if you are conscientious and thus the right to choose to live the way you want to.


    • I am not sure if you have known anyone suffering from anorexia. I have closely interacted and known a person who had anorexia. Believe me the sufferer has no control over her inability to eat food in healthy quantities. The sufferer knew her condition and requested her parents to help her and she was put under medical care and psychological intervention. Obviously it is a sort of ‘addiction’ . By the way consciousness is not absent in addiction. An addict is fully aware of his situation and is not able to exercise free-will to stop the spiraling down of the situation.


  2. Some interesting and cogent arguments supporting Anorexia. Categorizing Anorexia as a lifestyle and rejecting the medical definition, although bold, seems reasonable. After all, the way one decides to treat one’s body is governed by one’s free-will, as you stated. This is enough reason for a person to select such a lifestyle.
    The part that seems fallacious is in the application of rules of Principlism. It is no mystery that physical deterioration is a consequence of Anorexia. An anorexic person faces several complications, which are mainly serious physical and mental disorders. So categorizing it as entirely beneficent is inaccurate. Also, calling it non-maleficent, considering the mental disruption (in majority cases) and financial toll (in some cases) on the family of an anorexic people, seems wrong.
    I, on the other hand, believe that eating wholeheartedly should be ‘movement’ to promote. After all, staying healthy is more important than seeking approval of the hypocritical society.
    On a lighter note, nobody hates an All You Can Eat buffet. So why take the anorexic movement ahead?


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