Are girls with eating disorders an oppressed minority? I ask this question because the rexies are demanding some respect.
“. . . if you want sympathy for your ‘disease,’ you are an anorexic,” declared an activist on Rexia-World. “If you want respect and admiration for your lifestyle of choice, you are a rexie . . . Anorexics die. Rexies don’t. Have we understood the difference? This site is for us rexies, who are proud of our accomplishments, and the accomplishments that lie ahead. We will never die.”
The rexies want us to accept their alternative lifestyle choices and their alternative aesthetic criteria. “I believe in a wholly black and white world, the losing of weight, the recrimination for sins, the abnegation of the body and a life ever fasting,” declared a convert on Anorexic Nation.
“Starvation is fulfilling,” declared one rexie. “Colors become brighter, sounds sharper, odors so much more savory and penetrating that inhalation fills every fiber and pore of the body. The greatest enjoyment of food is actually found when never a morsel passes the lips.”
This may not be your notion of the enjoyment of food, but it is the opinion of someone who speaks for many other young women. Are these young women deluded or are they a social minority with perspectives a liberal society is obligated to respect?
The pro-ana (anorexic) websites boast names such as “Ana by Choice,” “Anorexic Nation,” “Totally in Control,” and “The Mirror Never Lies.” There are more than 400 of these sites where rexies solicit funds for legal battles, promote pro-ana media programs, solicit names for petitions and recruit more members. Do-gooders want to shut them down. The rexies are fighting back:
“This is a gathering point for sentient individuals who are working to cause changes to occur in body in conformity to will. There are no victims here, and maturity is measured in the acceptance of personal responsibility, not the number of birthdays survived.”
They are a society of teenage and twenty-something young women; they are an identity group. They tend to be strong-willed, Type A, alpha females who like to feel in control of their lives. They find the pro-ana websites empowering.
Their detractors argue that the rexies are leading a destructive lifestyle; they insist that the pro-ana websites reinforce rampant cognitive distortions. They call anorexia a biopsychosocial disorder because it has biological, psychological and social dimensions. Are the critics of fasting-by-choice onto something or are they just a bunch of backward and bigoted anaphobes with an undiagnosed cognitive disorder called adipophilia – a strange and creepy affection for body fat?
Join me in a thought experiment. Imagine that the rexies had the benefit of a pro-ana theorist who wrote a faster’s manifesto that re-imagined anorexics as an oppressed minority. Now imagine that some other pro-ana theorists, who were inspired by the first pro-ana theorist, were to script a very detailed media campaign for convincing all of the rest of America that anorexics were not freakishly strange people, but “really” smart, capable and in-control gals with admirable self-discipline who were making an alternative lifestyle choice that was a private matter protected by the United States Constitution.
Next imagine that the anorexics launched an aggressive campaign to disrupt speaking appearances by members of the American Psychiatric Association. Picture the rexies shouting down the psychiatrists and making a shambles of their efforts to build their careers. Suppose that this campaign was so intense that the American Psychiatric Association agreed to closed-door meetings with pro-ana militants that dragged on for a year and that at the end of that year the APA had agreed to allow the rexies to distribute a main-in ballot to every member of the APA asking them if it was time to drop anorexia nervosa from the APA’s manual of disorders, all of it to be carefully worded and funded by the rexies. Suppose that only a statistically worthless 25% of the membership bothered to return their ballots and that the rexies just barely won that meaningless vote and got anorexia scrubbed as a disorder from the APA’s definitive manual of disorders.
And finally imagine that the rexies were lavishly funded by “thinspiration” advocates in the “never-too-thin, never-too-rich” fashion industry and that popular “Slenderella” Hollywood actresses gave moving appeals for pro-ana tolerance and an end to rexie bashing.
If all of this is more than you can imagine, then come to terms with these historical facts: this fanciful arc of an upcoming Rise of the Rexies is exactly the pathway to “gay acceptance” that was paved by homosexual activists. This is the history of the Gay Movement.
A gutless clutch of careerists at the American Psychiatric Association were bullied into dropping homosexuality from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual; they collapsed under a campaign of harassment and intimidation; removing homosexuality from the APA’s list of disorders was a political act, not a medical assessment.
The media campaign of gay activists is modeled on a battle plan scripted by the queer theorists Marshall Kirk and Erastes Pill. This strategic document is appropriately titled “The Overhauling of Straight America.” The single seminal gay theorist who got the gay movement started was a Communist Party loyalist named Harry Hay who sat down at his kitchen table one evening in 1946 and re-imagined homosexuals the way Karl Marx might have imagined them if Karl Marx had been a homosexual: as an oppressed minority.