Pro-ana versus Anti Pro-ana: Battling over Twitter

Ilona Burton

No names here. I don’t wish to give him the satisfaction. An ex-Big Brother housemate who pretty much nobody has ever heard of, nevermind recognise, has displayed over the last week what can only be described as a sickening desperation for attention.

It came to my attention last week that this idiot had devoted his Twitter feed to promote size zero, encourage readers not to eat, to skip meals and to question their bodies. His most shocking claim is that he believes in what he calls ‘managed Anorexia’. I’ll come to that later.

His motives, and whether he actually believes all the crap he’s spurting or it is merely a not even Z-list celebrity with a thirst for another taste of fame or notoriety, have been disputed and questioned. I decided not to blog about the subject purely for the reason that I didn’t want to add to the attention – it’s what he wants – but after sharing my thoughts with others and considering just how angry his actions had made me feel, I couldn’t not.

What scares and shocks me the most is that to some extent, he has succeeded. When I first set eyes on his disgusting Twitter account, he had around 10,000 followers. In less than a week this has risen to 20,688. I hope that the majority of these new followers are a product of intrigue; his name was trending most of last week and people must have been wondering ‘who? what? why?’. Unfortunately though, it is undoubtable that among those followers will be young, vulnerable, impressionable females and males; people with eating disorders who will be spurred and fuelled by his ‘thinspiration’; people recovering or even recovered who could easily be triggered to relapse. They won’t be the only ones affected though. It goes beyond the obvious. Let’s face it, most of us question our size, shape and weight, many on a daily basis – even if this mans’ slurs don’t cause people to go on to develop an Eating Disorder, what he says could still be massively damaging. I think to really illustrate the extent of his onslaught, without linking to his profile, I will give a few examples of his filth:

Don’t listen to them. They’re all trying to make fatter. You’re a mess as is. Throw the food away. You’ll be so much happier then.

[Name]: making it acceptable for skinny people globally to call fat people what they are, disgusting.

All you non size zero girls need to keep a food diary, noting everything you eat & drink – review it daily and see how imperfect you are.

I probably don’t need to go on. I am also acutely aware that you may jump on me and tell me that anyone who listens or takes note of what he says are always capable of seeing him as what he is, an ignorant, power-tripping, attention-seeking cretin. If only it were that easy to ignore. If you are one of these people who simply cannot see how this could be damaging, rather than comment saying that anyone who does is weak and stupid, please just be thankful.

Whether he believes what he says or not, what he is doing is stupid, irresponsible and most of all, dangerous. He views Size 0 to be the only positive, anything more is fat and unacceptable. Eating is a sign of weakness. Anorexia is what we should aim for – oh, but MANAGED. I presume by ‘managed’ he means controlled. Let me tell you now that that is the polar opposite to everything that Anorexia is. Anorexia is being out of control, it is NOT managing, it makes you the victim and can potentially take away your loves, your freedoms and even your life. He is, effectively, promoting a slow suicide.

Which brings me swiftly on to the backlash. Twitterers are outraged and almost immediately, a petition was set up to make Twitter aware of what was happening. It has been signed by thousands. Thousands of people stood up against his ‘movement’ in our own, and soon #itswhatsinsidethatcounts and #curvesaresexy were trending. Charities and celebrities including Rihanna and Simon Cowell have joined what I call the Anti-Pro-ana movement. This, along with protestors tweeting his name, have provoked many to argue that that is exactly what he wanted – he has won the attention he craves; his dirty little plan worked. This was made clear in subsequent Tweets. This was my reason initially for not writing about him. But now he has that attention anyway and he is continuing to spread his dangerous messages. I cannot stand and let that happen without somehow answering back. I know for a fact that he is affecting people and I will not sit on the fence and watch that happen without having my say.

I have to rant at Twitter too, whoever he/she is. They are fully aware of this man and yet they claimed that what he is doing is not enough to get his account closed down. Would it be the same if he was telling people to cut themselves? What about suicide tips? Because really, trying to make people skip meal after meal IS a form of self-harm and could eventually kill. Twitter themselves are acting irresponsibly by acknowledging and allowing this to continue. They should be ashamed. He is hateful towards “fat” people and encourages sickness. It seems far-fetched, I know. It seems like an overreaction. But I have witnessed it happening. I have known people to die, people bigger than a size 0 who drop dead because the body is simply not designed to go without food. If only he could witness this first hand, but I highly doubt he has a conscience in that twisted little head of his.

There is much more to be said. I wish to write more about the idea of ‘managed anorexia’, but for now, that’s me.


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  • Man20

    I am, but I also know that articles such as this are just feeding him what he wants, people can only be affected by him if they read his stuff, so if you don’t read, you’re not affected. Simple as.

  • Ilona Burton

    I know that at least one person has been helped and reassured by what I have written here. If it helps one person, that’s enough for me.

  • Barbara Cain

    I’m not easily offended at all – but I have good reason to be concerned about such material.

  • evie pepper

    No, you’re wrong – it wasn’t that what he was saying was offensive as his opinions weren’t relevant – it was the fact that he was encouraging Anorexia and rubbishing the fact that it was an illness. Telling impressionable, body conscious teenage girls that Anorexia is a manageable dieting option is dangerous. Even though he has now revealed it to be a hoax, the damage has actually been done.

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