Wrapping up the week…

I thought I would do an overview of my first couple of weeks as a blogger.

One of my New Years resolutions was to attempt to write a daily blog…and I did not realise at that time just how hard it would be!  To commit to writing a daily blog demands a focus and determination and imagination that perhaps I just do not have.

Don’t get me wrong but I don’t think I did to bad, but did not manage to blog everyday and  it is one of my resolutions that I now formally amend to:  I will write a blog frequently!

Now in my blog on the 4th January I told you about our  lovely German Shepherd Mara, who had been very ill. After trying to force feed her, medicate her and mop up after her, I decided that what she deserved more than ever was a weekend where she was not forced to do anything, and during which we would shower her with as much love and affection as possible. This we did and to my amazement she actually ate food on the Friday and Saturday night. Our hopes were lifted momentarily but unfortunately on Sunday she deteriorated quickly and was euthanised on Monday evening. We were all heartbroken but knew it was for the best as she had been obviously suffering.

The subject of my My Get real peeps blog still divides the nation. Honestly, I do not have a problem with the Eastenders cot death storyline as I see it as just that. I know that some of my family and friends do have stronger issues with it and some perceive the problem being more to do with the subject matter than the actual portrayal of such. Others see the subject matter as a valid one that needs to be publicized but then have a problem with the way it was portrayed.  One thing I know for sure though is it is something that will trundle on and be discussed at work, in get togethers, on forums and in blogs…that is until the next big storyline comes along to upset a minority somewhere.

My next blog did something that I have never done before, and still feel a creeping anxiety for doing so… Chimera was a poem that I wrote a couple of years ago, but is the first time I have shared my poetry in such a public domain. Will I choose to share more…maybe!

Blogging does make you think about what you are writing and is not as easy as you might think it is. My blog about how Twitter  can hone your writing skills tried to demonstrate how wrtiting on such social networks can help you to attain better writing skills. One of my resolutions should have been “I will update my Twitter status at least daily”… it may have proved possibly a little more achievable!

The serious condition associated with anorexia and other eating disorders was one that I touched upon. I was truly horrified to discover the existence of pro-ana sites. Reading some of the posts written by pro-ana followers is disturbing to say the least but I am unsure as to what can be done if anything apart from ensuring that young people are educated about such disorders and are given positive body image reinforcement no matter what size or shape they may be.

Finally, A rose by any other name took a sneak look into the world of choosing baby names.

In a speech, Pope Benedict XVI urged parents to name their offspring in the Christian tradition, and bequeath “an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit will allow the person to blossom in the bosom of the Church”. In doing so, he has also  tapped into a growing public backlash against celebrities burdening their children with names such as Brooklyn, Peaches, Heavenly Hiraani and Princess Tiaamii. Parents must choose wisely and sensibly, as the resulting name can have far reaching and long lasting consequences for their child.

I finish this round up by offering 10 tips on this subject…

1. Whatever name you choose, it should have a positive connotation for you and its definition should be meaningful. A name is a strong first impression.

2. The first name’s rhythm should complement the last name. Remember to think about a middle name in the same way. Say the first, middle and last name several times to test the rhythm. Say the first name and last name together, too.

3. The initials should not spell anything undesirable. This goes for the two main initials, as well as all three initials. Winston Churchill (say no more!)

4. Check the pronunciation and spelling of the name. If you use an unusual pronunciation, your child will need to continually correct it. If the spelling is unusual, your child will have to correct that as well.

5. Be conscious of nicknames and variations. You may want to choose a name that can have nicknames and variations. This will enable the child to have more control of his/her name when older. The disadvantage is that childhood nicknames can linger on into adulthood and be embarrassing.

6. Think about what the name might be shortened to or what it might rhyme with.  A name that is easy to rhyme can make your child the target of playground jokes and ridicule. Bartholomew, for instance, one that the Pope may like. Very difficult to rhyme with anything but shorten it to Bart and … !

7. Practice the name and see how it sounds and feels. Try out the full name on family and friends. Check it out to make sure there is no history attached.

8.  The middle name provides an opportunity to use a family member’s name when it is not desirable as a first name but the same rules apply.

9. If you already have other children, think about all names as a collective.  Having a child called Thomas and then naming a second child Trixiebelle may be perceived as a bit odd.

10. Finally, don’t fall into the trap of calling your children little versions of yourself. Little David Jnr not only sounds very dated but also displays a complete lack of imagination.

Starving to be perfect?

One of my resolutions this year was to lose some weight and get healthy. Not really a serious resolution, and one that thousands upon thousands of us make every year.

Reading  Penny Laurie’s article today http://bit.ly/fnzl3b really made me sit up and take notice. It also left me feeling quite anxious and perturbed. This article made me aware of the existence of something I knew nothing about, the existence of a whole range of pro-ana websites, forums, and social networking sites.

For those like me, who may have little knowledge of this area, pro-ana refers to the promotion of the eating disorder anorexia nervosa as a ‘lifestyle choice’. It is often referred to simply as “ana” and is sometimes affectionately personified by anorexics as a girl named Ana.

A quick Google search on pro-ana brings up 1,790,000 hits.

Pro-ana organisations have in reality two stances with one side claiming that they exist mainly as a non-judgmental support environment for anorexics, and accept that it is a mental illness. The other pro-ana organisations deny anorexia nervosa is a mental illness and go with the  “lifestyle choice” route. This latter belief presents a far more worrying picture with the emergence of pro-eating disorder web sites, often run by young girls with eating disorders themselves.

One of these sites was the source of a Time Magazine article back in June 2005 “Starvation on the Web,” http://tiny.cc/v34vo with the focus of the article being the pro-anorexia Web site ceruleanbutterfly.com, which was being run by a 19-year-old college student with anorexia.

It is these pro-eating disorder sites that simply appear to act as gathering grounds for people who have eating disorders like anorexia but who accept it as a lifestyle choice.

Starving for Perfection is a pro-ana blog whose write is clearly anorexic and who describes her blog as being used “to support one another on our journey to being thin” http://tiny.cc/x7xog – She writes, “I’ve been doing really well lately with my eating disorder. I haven’t been eating much of anything. I definitely have been continuing to lose weight like crazy and people are starting to notice and worry. I love it. My arms feel tiny (which never happens)!” Comments made by some followers of her blogs tell her how great she looks, bearing in mind she is painfully thin, to which her replies are often that her stomach is huge and her thighs are so big that they overlap. Does this really signify a lifestyle choice?

This blog, alonside numerous other blogs and forums, list do and don’ts and quote pro-ana commandments:

If you aren’t thin, you aren’t attractive.
Being thin is more important than being healthy.
You must buy clothes, cut your hair, take laxatives, starve yourself, and do anything to make yourself look thinner.
Thou shall not eat without feeling guilty.
Thou shall not eat fattening food without punishing oneself afterwards.
Thou shall count calories and restrict intake accordingly.
What the scale says is the most important thing.
Losing weight is good/ gaining weight is bad.
You can never be too thin.
Being thin and not eating are signs of true will power and success.
If you are thin, you will be loved and accepted
Being thin is more important than being healthy
You must buy clothes, cut your hair, take laxatives, starve yourself, do anything to make yourself look thinner
Thou shall not eat without feeling guilty
Thou shall not eat fattening foods without punishing oneself afterwards
Thou shall count calories and restrict intake accordingly
What the scale says is the most important thing
Losing weight is good/ Gaining weight is bad
You can never be too thin
Being thin and not eating are true signs of willpower and success

Many pro-ana sites offer tips on how to be anorexic and bulimic, photos of thin people for “thinspiration,” highlight foods to eat that have few calories, how to “survive” eating in a restaurant, and message boards and chat rooms for support. Ana’s Thinspiration is just one of these sites http://ana-beauty.webs.com/ and boasts pictures and quotes such as:

  • Thin has a taste all its own
  • I do eat: only what is needed for.  I can’t help it that we live in a piggish society where gluttony is the norm, and everyone else is constantly stuffing themselves.
  • Ask me to show you perfect and I will show you a thin person.
    Starving is an example of excellent will power
  • Bones are clear and pure. Fat is dirty and hangs on your bones like a parasite.
  • An imperfect body reflects and imperfect person
  • Anyone can have inner beauty. But very few can earn real beauty, inside as well as out.
  • Hunger hurts, but starving works!
  • Starving is not pain, it’s the cure.

It seems that these young women see their primary goal is to persuade others that they are perfectly fine, and that they have the right to lead their lives however they see fit.

The pressure to be thin and “perfect” in society today brings dangerous consequences for our children and young people.  On a personal level, being a follower/believer of pro-ana is a personal choice. But in the technological world in which we live, where the majority of children and young people have access to this technology and where this ideology is being openly shared and publicised the dangers are obvious.

Societal pressure to be thin – http://tiny.cc/g12m9 jumps out from magazines, tv programmes and even government policy. With the focus on the obesity crisis, the need for children not to be overweight and the requirement that we all lead healthy lifestyles, those children that are not perceived as easily fitting into the ‘healthy’ category face huge pressures from all directions. For such children, problems with body image can easily be heightened and the need to be accepted and to fit in could easily lead them to these ‘dangerous’ pro-ana sites.

We need to ensure that our children and young people are fully educated about the dangers of anorexia and other eating disorders. Yes we need a focus on healthy eating and healthy living, but also with an understanding of the diversity of shape and size.