Ana: A Goddess For Modern Times?

Mighty_Emperor

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The bracelets came up here (and some replies):

forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.ph ... 192#501192
Link is obsolete. The current link is:

https://forums.forteana.org/posts/501192

but this seemed such an odd development that I thought it worth a new thread:

Cult-Like Lure of 'Ana' Attracts Anorexics

By MARTHA IRVINE, AP National Writer Mon May 30, 1:13 PM ET

CHICAGO - They call her "Ana." She is a role model to some, a goddess to others — the subject of drawings, prayers and even a creed. She tells them what to eat and mocks them when they don't lose weight. And yet, while she is a very real presence in the lives of many of her followers, she exists only in their minds.

Ana is short for anorexia, and — to the alarm of experts — many who suffer from the potentially fatal eating disorder are part of an underground movement that promotes self-starvation and, in some cases, has an almost cult-like appeal.

Followers include young women and teens who wear red Ana bracelets and offer one another encouraging words of "thinspiration" on Web pages and blogs.

They share tips for shedding pounds and faithfully report their "cw" and "gw" — current weight and goal weight, which often falls into the double digits. They also post pictures of celebrity role models, including teen stars Lindsay Lohan and Mary-Kate Olsen, who last year set aside the acting career and merchandising empire she shares with her twin sister to seek help for her own eating disorder.

"Put on your Ana bracelet and raise your skinny fist in solidarity!" one "pro-Ana" blogger wrote shortly after Olsen entered treatment.

The movement has flourished on the Web and eating disorder experts say that, despite attempts to limit Ana's online presence, it has now grown to include followers — many of them young — in many parts of the world.

No one knows just how many of the estimated 8 million to 11 million Americans afflicted with eating disorders have been influenced by the pro-Ana movement. But experts fear its reach is fairly wide. A preliminary survey of teens who've been diagnosed with eating disorders at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University, for instance, found that 40 percent had visited Web sites that promote eating disorders.

"The more they feel like we — 'the others' — are trying to shut them down, the more united they stand," says Alison Tarlow, a licensed psychologist and supervisor of clinical training at the Renfrew Center in Coconut Creek, Fla., a residential facility that focuses on eating disorders.

Experts say the Ana movement also plays on the tendency people with eating disorders have toward "all or nothing thinking."

"When they do something, they tend to pursue it to the fullest extent. In that respect, Ana may almost become a religion for them," says Carmen Mikhail, director of the eating disorders clinic at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.

She and others point to the "Ana creed," a litany of beliefs about control and starvation, that appears on many Web sites and blogs. At least one site encourages followers to make a vow to Ana and sign it in blood.

People with eating disorders who've been involved in the movement confirm its cult-like feel.

"People pray to Ana to make them skinny," says Sara, a 17-year-old in Columbus, Ohio, who was an avid organizer of Ana followers until she recently entered treatment for her eating disorder. She spoke on the condition that her last name not be used.

Among other things, Sara was the self-proclaimed president of Beta Sigma Kappa, dubbed the official Ana sorority and "the most talked about, nearly illegal group" on a popular blog hosting service that Sara still uses to communicate with friends. She also had an online Ana "boot camp" and told girls what they could and couldn't eat.

"I guess I was attention-starved," she now says of her motivation. "I really liked being the girl that everyone looked up to and the one they saw as their 'thinspiration.'

"But then I realized I was helping girls kill themselves."

For others, Ana is a person — a voice that directs their every move when it comes to food and exercise.

"She's someone who's perfect. It's different for everyone — but for me, she's someone who looks totally opposite to the way I do," says Kasey Brixius, a 19-year-old college student from Hot Springs, S.D.

To Brixius — athletic with brown hair and brown eyes — Ana is a wispy, blue-eyed blonde.

"I know I could never be that," she says, "but she keeps telling me that if I work hard enough, I CAN be that."

Dr. Mae Sokol often treats young patients in her Omaha, Neb., practice who personify their eating disorder beyond just Ana. To them, bulimia is "Mia." And an eating disorder often becomes "Ed."

"A lot of times they're lonely and they don't have a lot of friends. So Ana or Mia become their friend. Or Ed becomes their boyfriend," says Sokol, who is director of the eating disorders program run by Children's Hospital and Creighton University.

In the end, treatment can include writing "goodbye" letters to Ana, Mia and Ed in order to gain control over them.

But it often takes a long time to get to that point — and experts agree that, until someone with an eating disorder wants to help themselves, treatment often fails.

Tarlow, at the Renfrew Center, says it's also easy for patients to fall back into the online world of Ana after they leave treatment. "Unfortunately," she says, "with all people who are in recovery, it's so much about who you surround yourself with."

Some patients, including Brixius, the 19-year-old South Dakotan, have had trouble finding counselors who truly understand their struggle with Ana.

"I'd tell them about Ana and how she's a real person to me. And they'd just look at me like I'm nuts," Brixius says of the counselors she's seen at college and in her hometown. "They wouldn't address her ever again, so it got very frustrating.

"Half the time I'm, like, 'You know what? I give up.'"

Other days, she's more hopeful.

"I gotta snap out of this eventually if I want to have kids and get a job. One day, I'll get to that point," she says, pausing. "But I'll always obsess about food."

___

On the Net:

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders: http://www.anad.org

National Eating Disorders Association: http://www.edap.org/
Source

Given the fact that people are visulising Ana already how long until osmeone starts haivng visions of her?

How different is this to the earlier female saints as dsicussed here?:

forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13890
Link is obsolete. The current link is:

https://forums.forteana.org/threads/13890
 
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Timble2

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As self-starvation has been used to induce visions, I don't think it'll be very long before someone does seen her.

I suppose it's no weirder than other cults that have practiced some type of self-harm as a way to enlightenment.

Which isn't to say it's that it's not a good idea to try and stop it at this stage - a long of religions should have been eliminated at inception.


BTW: It reminds me a bit of the new gods that are emerging to eliminate the old ones in "American Gods".
 

rjmrjmrjm

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It is quite scary, I suppose though, that celebrity itself is like a religion, as is football.

Chants, Rituals, Sacred Artifacts/Talismans and almost fanatical devotion - men in tears at the ecstacy and agony of 22 men in tight shorts kicking a ball.
 
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Breezilla

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The pro-anorexia thing confuses me to no end. Being proud of your eating disorder seems to be something that's only shown up in recent years... And though I've heard of the cutsey disease nicknames "Ana" and "Mia" before, I've never heard of anyone visualizing the name as an actual PERSON.

Anthropomorphizing your illnesses. How odd. :shock:

The whole eating disorder subculture seems to be getting stranger and stranger... as if they're in some competition to see who can be the most eXtreme anorexic. :confused:

Another thought: Are these pro-ana people REALLY anorexic, or are they just wishing they were? If they're not anorexic and wish they were, then by acting anorexic, do they become anorexic? Does this make any sense?



(Many apologies if I seem insensitive, as I don't intend to be. I just find the whole pro-eating disorder thing to be a source of endless strangeness and confusion. Honestly, I feel quite terrible for anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder or with the overcoming of one, as deluded idiots like this certainly can't be helping.)
 

Leaferne

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In high school I had a friend who wanted to be anorexic...most of her conversations were about what she'd eat--or, more to the point, not eat--and she'd point out really skinny models, the sort who look like prepubescent boys, as examples of the look she was shooting for. She'd get in terrible rows with her parents for not eating. Her dad was a doctor; you'd think he'd have done something...Interestingly, though, I don't recall her weight ever really *changing* even though I seldom saw her eat. If she had cottoned on to this personification of Ana at the time she'd have been all over it, and she would have been one of those sad sacks writing in asking for tips on how to be anorexic. We even went shopping for syrup of ipecac together but couldn't find a pharmacist who'd sell it to us.

I wonder sometimes if the mentality has changed or not. I remember reading Cosmpolitan as a kid and being absolutely gutted to note that the model was 5'10", 118 pounds. I was 5'8" and 130 and thought I must be appalling, a notion my wannabe ana friend was happy to endorse. I was a teenager in the 80s. Since then, there's been a lot of lip service paid to the notion of "everyone is beautiful", "all bodies are acceptable" etc. and yet there's still a huge stigma attached to weight, especially for young women. Is all of this "acceptance" discourse just a lot of PC drivel? Why do young women still want to be bony?
 

Melf

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Leaferne said:
Why do young women still want to be bony?
lots of reasons:-

peer pressure,
the media/music,
fashion/designers,
men/boys,
psychological? (wanting to stay young? not having to grow up?)
genetics?
"wastern ideals?
-----

i wonder how many of these girls/young women have had a "intense x-tian" upbringing to be having visions of "ana"?
 

Yithian

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Timble said:
BTW: It reminds me a bit of the new gods that are emerging to eliminate the old ones in "American Gods".
And, similarly, In Good Omens, PESTILENCE (apocalyptical equestrian) has handed the reins to POLLUTION.

This whole 'bask in the glory of your eating disorder' outlook is retarded and depressing. I'm not sure there's not a manipulative angle here, with the real victims being exploited and played upon by spokesmen and pseudo-sufferers.

If you're going to be defined by just one thing, then you could do a whole lot better than anorexia.

It all reminds me of suicide in Heathers.
 

Leaferne

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melf said:
Leaferne said:
Why do young women still want to be bony?
lots of reasons:-

peer pressure,
the media/music,
fashion/designers,
men/boys,
psychological? (wanting to stay young? not having to grow up?)
genetics?
"wastern ideals?
-----

i wonder how many of these girls/young women have had a "intense x-tian" upbringing to be having visions of "ana"?
Excellent point--the "holy anorexia" bit. As for men/boys pressuring women to be thin, I'm not sure boniness (as opposed to being slender/in shape) is a turn-on for most of them but what do I know? (mind you, a certain kind of a$$hole guy seems to take a fat woman as a personal affront so...)
 
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Breezilla

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Leaferne said:
Since then, there's been a lot of lip service paid to the notion of "everyone is beautiful", "all bodies are acceptable" etc. and yet there's still a huge stigma attached to weight, especially for young women. Is all of this "acceptance" discourse just a lot of PC drivel? Why do young women still want to be bony?
I'm pretty sure it is a load of crap. At the same time we're being told that all bodies are acceptable, we're also bombarded with news stories about how obesity is on the rise and rumors of a school printing the kids' BMIs on the report cards. It's odd, though, how we neglect to mention that being to skinny is terribly unhealthy as well. And I've seen more than a few people just walking down the street who are thin to an unhealthy extent.

All bodies AREN'T beautiful, because too far either way just isn't good for you.


The Yithian said:
This whole 'bask in the glory of your eating disorder' outlook is retarded and depressing. I'm not sure there's not a manipulative angle here, with the real victims being exploited and played upon by spokesmen and pseudo-sufferers.
Exactly.
Does anyone else get the idea that these pro-anorexia people seem to instead be suffering from Munchausen's, or something similar?
 

rjmrjmrjm

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Breezilla said:
It's odd, though, how we neglect to mention that being to skinny is terribly unhealthy as well. And I've seen more than a few people just walking down the street who are thin to an unhealthy extent.
I don't find it odd. I suppose it is because to get fat is easier than to get thin. To get fat you just have to stop exercising and eat more, to get thin you either HAVE to exercise more (which will just build muscle) or not eat - which causes stomach cramps, hunger pains and general illness. Its much easier to eat than to starve.
 

sebastianp1

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Well, Leaferne, speaking as a practicing male human being, an anorexic girl does nothing for me.

From talking to the lads I believe that I'm not alone here.

Dare I say that my preference, and that of most of the lads I've spoken to, in terms of preferred female forms, runs more along the lines of the late Marilyn Monroe or other well-covered screen idols. So, no, I don't think the idea that men pressure young women to become anorexic holds much water.

There must be more to it than that.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Sebastianp said:
Well, Leaferne, speaking as a practicing male human being, an anorexic girl does nothing for me.

From talking to the lads I believe that I'm not alone here.

Dare I say that my preference, and that of most of the lads I've spoken to, in terms of preferred female forms, runs more along the lines of the late Marilyn Monroe or other well-covered screen idols. So, no, I don't think the idea that men pressure young women to become anorexic holds much water.

There must be more to it than that.
I've always assumed it was about power and control and that people who feel like they don't have any. I'd also imagine there was a degree of self loathing.

I wouldn't rule out the idea that is the concept of beauty that is influencing them even if most guys don't find that look attractive. I'm unsure many of us chaps could remember the last time one of us said "Phwoar look at her shes so thin!!"
 

Mighty_Emperor

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FuManChu said:
A "Cult of Skinny" could be seen simply as the same urge to divorce onself from the world made superficial, fasting for the look of it. Where, in the past, mortification was a means towards achieving virtue, now the act of mortification has become an end in itself (as it is "good" to diet, and adhere to a diet plan). There's a god-shaped hole in that religion, and it's being occupied by a very warped aesthetic ideal.
You can see it as way of discarding on reducing ones external shell to focus on the purity of the spiriitual side of things although in this case it seems to start from actual fasting and bolt on supernatural aspects but it is also possible that in some ways that may just be what happens naturally. Things like fasting and flagellating appear in a wide range of religions all with different metaphysical justifcations so it might just be that we are getting a better look at the start of the process rather than the usual end product.

This issue also touches on things like the Breatharians and related people:

forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9769
Link is obsolete. The current link is:

https://forums.forteana.org/threads/9769

and relgious-based diets:

forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20563
Link is obsolete. The current link is:

https://forums.forteana.org/threads/20563
 
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OneWingedBird

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I wonder if with the wannabes there's an element there where they feel that they need to give a name to their pain, so to speak, and seek validation of genuine though non-specific problems by latching onto a condition that's a big name, something that everyone's heard of, that they can take a perverse plesure in.

Oddly enough I recall meeting a few former wannabe anorexics (among others) among the born-again crowd I used to hang with. They'd play it up and testify how god had healed them of their anorexia, where most likely they'd just switched their means of getting validation and support from being anorexic to being christian.
 

v3ra

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The pro-anorexia thing confuses me to no end. Being proud of your eating disorder seems to be something that's only shown up in recent years... And though I've heard of the cutsey disease nicknames "Ana" and "Mia" before, I've never heard of anyone visualizing the name as an actual PERSON.

Anthropomorphizing your illnesses. How odd. :shock:

The whole eating disorder subculture seems to be getting stranger and stranger... as if they're in some competition to see who can be the most eXtreme anorexic. :confused:

Another thought: Are these pro-ana people REALLY anorexic, or are they just wishing they were? If they're not anorexic and wish they were, then by acting anorexic, do they become anorexic? Does this make any sense?



(Many apologies if I seem insensitive, as I don't intend to be. I just find the whole pro-eating disorder thing to be a source of endless strangeness and confusion. Honestly, I feel quite terrible for anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder or with the overcoming of one, as deluded idiots like this certainly can't be helping.)
Hey!
So I was just wondering around the internet and i came across this.
Even tho this post was made nearly 15 years ago, as a fellow x anorexic/bullimic I thought I could explain some things that seem to confuse you.
(Even tho you probably wont see this, Im bored so here we go)
*Also sorry for grammar mistakes, English isnt my mother tongue*
First of all, being "proud" of your eating disorder is a part of the eating disorder itself.
I dont think that this is something that has occured in resent years.
It is very common for anorexics to be proud about their unhealthy eating habbits since their disorder has led them to believe that starvation is good and something to be proud about.
Anorexic people feel succesful for having such eating habbits and view those as a good thing, and therefore feel proud about them.
Now, Im not sure how to feel about "visualizing an eating disorder", that seems a bit weird, even to me.
To be honest, I've met a lot of anorexics over the internet (there's a big comunity on a certain website) and very few actualy anthropomorphisized their illness.
So, I think that, thankfully this is mostly a thing of the past.
Also, youve mentioned that its odd that there seems to be a competition between anorexics - who's the most extreme one -
And I think youre right.
It is weird, and it should be weird to any normal person, but, I have to say, it didnt seem weird at all when I was actually involved in the comunity.
Once agin, this whole competition thing is, in fact, a part of eating disorders. (from now on reffered to as ed's, for obvious reasons)
Anorexics want to become "better" in anorexia.
What you think of as "getting worse" or "getting sicker" an anorexic persieves as "getting more succsesfull" and "getting better".
Someone that is mentaly healthy cannot fully understand this.
That is mostly because ed's, like any other mental condition mess with one's sanity, perseption of the world and ability to think rationally.
Certain behaviours and thoughts that might not make sence to you, can seem perfectly normal and reasonable to an enorexic.
Next: (about the pro ana websites and stuff/your next thought)
If I've understood you corectly, you seem to wonder if the people on these sites are relly anorexic, and if theyre not, do they slowly become anorexic.
I think that no one with a "healthy" mind would ever visit those sites in the first place.
No healthy person would just wake up one day and think:
- "oh, must be nice to be anorexic, lets give it a try!"
Althought not all of those people have fully developed an ed when visiting those sites for the first time, most of them probably already have some sort of disordered eating behaviours, maybe a bad realationship with food, and - surely - a very unhealthy mindset.
In other words, people who wish to be anorexic are either already anorexic (undiagnosed) or they have a disordered minset and a bad realationship with food (witch will eventually result to them having an ed)
Either way, no healthy person desires to be anorexic.
DISCLAIMER : when I say anorexic I dont only mean "having the stereotypical anorexic body" but also having the eating habits and the mindset of an anorexic person.
ALSO : Im not by any means ofended by your post or trying to "corect" you.
I just thought I could try and give an explenation since I used to be in the "AnaMia" comunity and stuff.
 

GNC

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There's a coincidence, I was reading about the Hollywood actress Susan Peters today, who died of the effects of anorexia. Not recently - back in 1951, so it's a condition that has been around for a long while.
 

Bad Bungle

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May I just point out that my brother has suffered from Anorexia for the past 15 years as a symptom of Chronic Fatigue. This is not the same as the mental disorder Anorexia nervosa, - for physiological reasons as yet unknown his body simply doesn't tell him when it's hungry. It's easy not to bother to eat without constant reminders.
 

Ladyloafer

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Interesting post @v3ra , thanks for your perspective.

There's a coincidence, I was reading about the Hollywood actress Susan Peters today, who died of the effects of anorexia. Not recently - back in 1951, so it's a condition that has been around for a long while.
It's been known about for a long time
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_anorexia_nervosa

But seems to have really started to come to medical attention in the 19th century.

I can remember reading a novel written in the 19th century, like little women or little house on the prairie, but not those actual books, that makes a reference to a character having 'that illness where girls refuse to eat'.
 

PeteS

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Hey!
So I was just wondering around the internet and i came across this.
Even tho this post was made nearly 15 years ago, as a fellow x anorexic/bullimic I thought I could explain some things that seem to confuse you.
(Even tho you probably wont see this, Im bored so here we go)
*Also sorry for grammar mistakes, English isnt my mother tongue*
First of all, being "proud" of your eating disorder is a part of the eating disorder itself.
I dont think that this is something that has occured in resent years.
It is very common for anorexics to be proud about their unhealthy eating habbits since their disorder has led them to believe that starvation is good and something to be proud about.
Anorexic people feel succesful for having such eating habbits and view those as a good thing, and therefore feel proud about them.
Now, Im not sure how to feel about "visualizing an eating disorder", that seems a bit weird, even to me.
To be honest, I've met a lot of anorexics over the internet (there's a big comunity on a certain website) and very few actualy anthropomorphisized their illness.
So, I think that, thankfully this is mostly a thing of the past.
Also, youve mentioned that its odd that there seems to be a competition between anorexics - who's the most extreme one -
And I think youre right.
It is weird, and it should be weird to any normal person, but, I have to say, it didnt seem weird at all when I was actually involved in the comunity.
Once agin, this whole competition thing is, in fact, a part of eating disorders. (from now on reffered to as ed's, for obvious reasons)
Anorexics want to become "better" in anorexia.
What you think of as "getting worse" or "getting sicker" an anorexic persieves as "getting more succsesfull" and "getting better".
Someone that is mentaly healthy cannot fully understand this.
That is mostly because ed's, like any other mental condition mess with one's sanity, perseption of the world and ability to think rationally.
Certain behaviours and thoughts that might not make sence to you, can seem perfectly normal and reasonable to an enorexic.
Next: (about the pro ana websites and stuff/your next thought)
If I've understood you corectly, you seem to wonder if the people on these sites are relly anorexic, and if theyre not, do they slowly become anorexic.
I think that no one with a "healthy" mind would ever visit those sites in the first place.
No healthy person would just wake up one day and think:
- "oh, must be nice to be anorexic, lets give it a try!"
Althought not all of those people have fully developed an ed when visiting those sites for the first time, most of them probably already have some sort of disordered eating behaviours, maybe a bad realationship with food, and - surely - a very unhealthy mindset.
In other words, people who wish to be anorexic are either already anorexic (undiagnosed) or they have a disordered minset and a bad realationship with food (witch will eventually result to them having an ed)
Either way, no healthy person desires to be anorexic.
DISCLAIMER : when I say anorexic I dont only mean "having the stereotypical anorexic body" but also having the eating habits and the mindset of an anorexic person.
ALSO : Im not by any means ofended by your post or trying to "corect" you.
I just thought I could try and give an explenation since I used to be in the "AnaMia" comunity and stuff.
Interesting to hear this perspective v3RA - I don't think I've ever read any explanation from a sufferer (wrong word probably but you know what I mean). Without wishing to intrude (don't answer if you don't want to) how did you become an ex anorexic?
 

v3ra

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Interesting to hear this perspective v3RA - I don't think I've ever read any explanation from a sufferer (wrong word probably but you know what I mean). Without wishing to intrude (don't answer if you don't want to) how did you become an ex anorexic?
So basically I've had a bad realationship w food since my childhood.
I got used to it and didnt even realise it was a problem.
I'm not sure what was the exact cause but I know it had to do with me (in my pre - teenage years) not wanting grow up and be an adult. (obviously this was on a subcontious level)
By restricting food intake you won't have adult characteristics (hips etc.) and therefore will remain a child.
Im aware that this isn't logical but that was what I subcontiously wanted to do.
Stressing about school was also a big factor.
Ed's can also be triggered durring the first years of one's life, if bad realationship between the infant and the mother occurs.
(thats because the mother simbolises food intake for the child)
However, I believe that ed's are caused by much more than "beauty standards"
(altho these might trigger certain behaviours, they are definetly not the cause of the problem.)
Again sorry for grammar mistaces etc., I'm too lazy to open another tab and check every word.
 

henry

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so ana and mia now regendered as ed ?
 

v3ra

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heres a rly good ted talk on the subject:↓
 
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