The New Work of Composing

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Learning from Pro-Ana

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There is an alien inside me. Actually, there are many. I have multiple identities that are daily, or hourly, or each second created differently and mediated through multiple lenses. Some of those lenses are physical, some mental, and some theoretical. These constructions are often at odds, creating a fight/fight/fight mentality.

I have been researching the pro-ana (pro-anorexia) community since 2002. One day, I happened on a pro-ana website and was shocked and amazed that such sites (and, I later learned, communities) existed. I wasn’t shocked that the sentiment existed, but I was surprised that there were people for whom this was a reality, that they had found a way to share that reality. At that time, I could identify privately as a recovering anoretic, and potentially as pro-ana scholar publicly, but those were two mediated realities that did not interconnect.

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A collie dog
A cat in the sun
Morgan next to a chalk drawing of herself
Morgan shooting a Nerf gun

“Foremost, I struggle with notions of identity, often made manifest in the ways I choose to choose: eat or not eat, feel pain or not feel pain, communicate and connect with others or not ... Because I will always struggle with them—the choices, the identities, the dis*ease.” (Gresham, 2008, p. 86)

Learning about Choices