Alex as a sixteen-year-old. During the first incarceration, she found herself isolated and disoriented. As she tries to escape the boredom by consulting Snapchat and Instagram, she encounters sports influencer accounts. Beautiful, muscular, full of energy and motivation, these personalities offer fitness programs, nutrition tips, recipes “healthy“and inspirational videos to motivate yourself to lose weight. Alex discover the vocabulary of “fitness girls”these influencers, whose content is targeted at a female audience, with videos on YouTube with catchy titles: “Losing your love handles”“How to get a flat stomach?, “Prepare your summer body”… Gradually, Alex convinces herself that she has “a few pounds to lose“. For five months she gave herself sporting goals and quickly lost those few kilos … But she did not stop there.
“I was really in control and I was more able to detach myself from what I saw on the scales. it started to get obsessive.” Alex
The disease creeps in: Alix eats less and less, deep down she congratulates herself on having lost her appetite little by little, but without completely stopping eating so as not to worry about her family.
“I lost fifteen pounds in four months, but no one noticed. I could not get out of this cycle. I was happier, I did not make fun anymore, I did not even have the strength to play sports anymore.” Alex
The following months, Alex loses even more and the physical symptoms of anorexia develop: amenorrhea, hair loss, appearance of down, low blood pressure … The diagnosis drops and there is talk of hospitalization of the young girl.
“I really had a realization. In fact, it’s something you can die of. It was then that I said to myself that I could not continue like this. That day I decided I wanted to start healing.” Alex
“I was congratulated instead of worrying about myself”
Cristina is 21 years old. She has been creating content on social networks for a few years. She has experienced both sides of networking: on the one hand, contents “pro ana”, which encourages eating disorders and which helped to sink her into anorexia; the other, support network which can be created thanks to Instagram, Tiktok, Reddit or Youtube, where she first found a friend, then a community.
Eating disorders are multifactorial, but they are often associated with trauma. Physical or verbal abuse, including seemingly harmless teasing, can ruin a child’s or teenager’s relationship with their body and food. In the case of Cristinait is his mother who herself suffers from anorexia that is the cause of his discomfort.
“All her own complexes, my mother projected them on me: the fact that, according to her, I was too fat, that I was ugly … In fact, it was all words that she meant to herself, but she said to me, because we looked very similar. I felt dirty, like a rough, damaged person, and that I had to remove all the fat from my body, filling as little as possible.” Cristina
It was in sixth grade there Cristina encounter the first pro-anorexic content on blogs or Tumblr accounts. On these sites, now replaced by TikTok and Instagram, “gurus“of anorexia share”encouragement”To sink into the disease. around hashtags #Proana, #Thinspo or #Meanspopatients build a set of rules to set themselves weight loss goals and increase control over their body.
“I took it as if it were a bible, I respected all the commandments perfectly. That’s how I fell in. ” Cristina
Around her, no one realizes that nothing but her grandmother. On the contrary, she is congratulated on losing ten kilos – even though she was already thin. Cristina feels like drowning.
“I stayed home for a year. My condition worsened. Anorexia became a haven: all I thought about was calorie control.” Cristina
The young girl begins to see a psychiatrist who does not measure the extent of her disorder. To feel understood, she continues to go on social networks. As it becomes increasingly difficult to find pro-ana content, thanks censorship created by moderatorsshe ends up looking for one “ana-comrade”a correspondent who would motivate her to deprive herself of food. But against all odds, the two correspondents end up turning the vicious circle into a virtuous …
Thanks to Alix and Cristina (The Peculiar Club on YouTube).
- Reporter: Jeanne Mayer
- Instruction: Anne Depelchin
- Mixture: Jean-Louis Deloncle
Conclusion: “Toxic” by BoyWithUke
Cristina’s videos on anorexia: on the ballad and on pro-ana period
Chloe Rabs, “Eating Disorders: ‘Lockdowns Have Taken Their Toll'”Release, 2/6/22
Lthe website of the french federation of anorexia and bulimia offers a listening number