Big Bad World

I have struggled, struggled, struggled with the "trigger" topic. Over and over I have been asked and at times point blank told:

-Stop posting triggering photos!

-Post a warning on triggering topics!

-You must be more sensitive to those with EDs…

-You have to understand everyone is not strong.

Here's my question to you girls – where exactly does personal responsibility come in?

Here's my deal; I know that I am not being real if I post trigger warnings, or avoid pro-ana topics with thinspiration images…to instead write nice-little-fairy-tales sprinkled with gumdrops and rainbows, to create a safe haven for you.

If you can not handle the posts or images, it is your responsibility not to read this blog.  

Recovery is not easy.
It gets easier, yes.
but it is not easy.

Hopefully one day you will personally choose you are ready to recover. The day will come you will have to take that first step out into the big, bad world – and run smack into the most triggering-earth-shattering-thinspiration billboard on the planet.


Then what? Curl up in the corner? Or walk past it, head held high because you finally know who you are?

This is reality.
I'm a realist.
You must go elsewhere to be coddled.

Because girls, if you take this away from me, well… this blog is no longer a blog. It's just another pat on the back, that eventually pushes you into the water to see if you can swim.

You can swim.
I know you can swim.
So, I keep pushing.

My hope is that one of those pushes will be the spark you need to get on with your life.



**Dove Videos in full can be seen here:


Under Pressure

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36 Responses to Big Bad World

  1. Alex says:

    Well said mamav!
    I really appreciate your honesty, but remember honesty can be given with out a bad attitude. No disrespect : )
    But feels like sometimes you get so carried away in your posts that you seem almost brutal.
    Hugs from

  2. Sylvia says:

    I saw the theme of your post in Google Reader, so have come over to comment. I’m pretty disappointed with your decision to continue showing pro-ana content, and rather than type out a comment which is exactly what I said to you a while back, I’ve found the link to your comment here:
    I feel really strongly about the arguments I have made there. As well as those points, I believe the photos add nothing to your posts that your great writing hasn’t already established. Thus I would query their inclusion.
    While I don’t think you’re going about this the right way it is of course your blog and you have the right to say what you like on it (and I totally support that right!) :-) But I would again ask you to *please* and very seriously consider asking to be removed from the EdDigest feed as a result of your stance on this issue. I syndicate the feed (on Google Reader), as I’m sure do many others, and there is NO ONE else on that feed who is deliberately and provocatively posting pictures straight from pro-anorexia websites. That’s not to say that what you’re doing is wrong, but I would suggest it *does* mean that you aren’t in keeping with the general ethos of that feed. I know I can just skip over your posts in my Google Reader, and in fact I have been since you have continued in recent times to post photos which I honestly would not be forced to look at *anywhere* else in real life, but for those who are maybe new to the feed, or who aren’t as savvy about who all the posters on it are, your blog content could be problematic.
    Again, I say more power to you for what you’re doing, and for making choices about the content you want, but I really don’t think the EdDigest is the forum for that content. The fact that I don’t think copy-pastes from pro-ana sites belong on an anti-easting disorders blog is just sort of an optional extra, really :-S
    I won’t be spamming you on this issue again, as we obviously have different views on this and it’s your blog not mine 😀 Thus the onus is on me to say this blog obviously isn’t for me. I just thought that since you were inviting responses, I’d register mine.

  3. Melissa says:

    I think you’re right, MamaV…triggers are everywhere and until we get to the “root” of the “weed” (ED/DE) we will still see a lawn infested with weeds. I blogged about this today.

  4. Gayle says:

    Screw them mama. I love your blog and don’t find your imagines triggering at all. I do have major triggers but classic “thinspo” not so much (but I am also 49). Keep up the great work!

  5. Liz says:

    I think the point is here…you’re trying to be an advocate to eating disorder recovery. You’re trying to provide help for sufferers.
    And at the same time you’re going to be insensitive and negative in your posts?
    I just don’t think it goes hand in hand.
    Especially when you consider that eating disorders are MENTAL disorders. This isn’t all just about thin in the media.
    I know I don’t only speak for myself when I say a lot of people’s symptoms stemmed from these factors exactly – insensitivity, negative communication, dysfunction, and the inability TO deal with the reality/world around them.
    Why do you think intensive inpatient treatment IS practical isolation from the outside world?
    So I just think there are other (more affective) methods to try and help people suffering with this.
    Your blog is a decent AWARENESS tool, but at this point I wouldn’t really refer to it as any kind of help source.
    Just my own opinion.

  6. Ali says:

    I think there is a clear difference between the images from a pro ana website and images from THIS website referencing ads and celebrities etc. You’re very right, we (people in recovery) need to deal with these things because we WILL see them in our every day life. Its going to make us stronger–like you said, hold our head up high and be strong! Thanks!

  7. Meryt Bast says:

    Mmmmmm…rainbow gumdrops.
    I love your site. *hug*

  8. Petunia says:

    What about all ads, magazines, beauty contests, fashion catalogues ?. They are everywhere, and there is no way to remove them. There is absolutly nothing special about mamaV showing pro ana content. I think making people aware of dangeres of pro ana is as important as giving support and hope to those girls who are recovering. And what is better way than showing to unaware parents what their children can find on internet?
    And the most important thing – mamaV’s comments. That’s what makes this blog special. You have to read, watch pictures here with full context. Otherwise it’s pointless to read this blog in a first place.

  9. Bela says:

    Hello MamaV.
    I’d really appreciate it if you did a post concerning doing your best in life and taking charge of what is available to you.
    I suppose that an abundant quantity of your readers are high school students so I think this would be appreciated across the board.
    Lately, I have been really panicking about my grades as the idea of college nears. I have two more years to go, but I know it’ll pass sooner than I think. I have a big problem with panicking and calling myself a failure when I do not get perfect grades or I feel like I’ve dissapointed myself. I have perhaps 1 friend who get a 6.8 average but she has a very limited social life and I have about a 6.0 average and I feel just not enough, ever. I feel so much pressure to be perfect. I know, I really do fit into the tried and true mold of “perfect girls” that are found among ED sufferers but I so unimaginably stressed. (Internatioinal Baccalaureate system, seven being highest. The system is notoriously much more difficult than normal high schools globally and most of friends in college now are skipping full year courses and finding college to be less difficult than IB high school).
    and how did you do in high school? Of course your experience is unique because of your time as a model and the consequences of it but I am still interested in your experience.

  10. .C. says:

    Dear Meryt Bast,
    I must disagree with your post. It has been categorically proven that rainbow gumdrops are not delicious.

  11. Mel Amber says:

    I read this blog almost every day. I am in recovery, and lately i have been slipping up (Mia) and i really appreciate you candid look at this disease.
    Don’t let the haters get to you, keep doing what you love and what you are so good at: Inspiring past/present ppl with ED’s to take responsibility and seek HELP.

  12. tryingtorecover says:

    I completely respect your right to post whatever you like using your judgement and would never complain about it. It’s your blog – of course do as you see fit.
    But my question is – what is the point in posting pictures of emaciated people? How does it contribute to your blog, or your message? Why is it necessary?
    I can handle the photos. I just wonder what the point is.

  13. Jess says:

    I don’t see your posts as “brutal” or “harsh.” I completely agree with what you just said. Keep blogging and keep doing what you are doing. This site has helped in my process of recovery from anorexia, and I agree that in order to fully recover, you cannot be coddled. You need to face your fears, life is harsh. Life will never be easy. As long as people with ED’s are coddled during the whole recovery process, they will never fully recover or get better. And people are CHOOSING to come to your site, I agree. No one is forcing them to. It is not your fault people take your posts as triggering, it’s their own messed up mind-frame that is making them think this way, and is not your fault.
    Sorry if I offended, I had to let that out.

  14. Kari says:

    I would just like everyone to know that when I was in treatment we had a body image therapy. In body image therapy we were forced to look at very thin models who people would consider to be “thin-spiration” You NEED to look at it and FACE it! And agree when others say that it is not all about the images. There is a whole lot more going on. If you are not willing and able to look at these images, then, like MamaV said, you have not made the choice that you want and will choose recovery!
    You can do it!

  15. Carrie says:

    Now, I just have to say this because…
    During the worst times of my eating disorder, I never looked at Thinspiration photos. I went to pro-ana sites but didn’t like them – because of what, I can’t remember now, since I’ve come a long way and don’t even remember.
    What drove ME was things such as – I was not deserving of love. I was born to be a punching bag I had no redeeming qualities. I was a selfish, self-centred, closed-minded untalented person, and I would do my friends, family and the other 6 billion people on this planet a favour by killing myself.
    I typed that out because eating disorders and the ones who suffer from them are are varied and different. We can be of different weights yet still be as unhealthy mentally and physically, and I’m sure many of us are more driven by our depression than the want to be thin.

  16. Rachel says:

    Personal responsibility REALLY needs to play a large role in a person’s recovery. I have known so many people with EDs who refuse any personal responsibility because it is just so much easier to play the blame game- and to be the victim.
    However, even though I think that you should use whatever images you want- and the world IS full of trigger-happy imaging- I think you need to decide who you are trying to reach, MamaV. Because if you are doing this to show other parents- then yes, absolutely, they need to see this stuff- because their kids might be looking at it, and its shocking. However, if your aim is to help girls suffering right now- you may want to consider what you are sharing- because it is a little hard to do both at the same time. Its like all the people who say to someone with an ED to “just eat a sandwich” and you are all better. As someone who had an ED, MamaV, you should know its not that simple. On your blog, you should definitely say whatever you want, and post whatever you want- but maybe once in a while you should think who is reading this, and hold back. I have been recovered for years now, and sometimes on your site, I come across things that I think “holy crap, that was triggering as hell!” I am equipped to deal with it- but some people need to develop that ability still. I love your blog, and I don’t think you should change it- but I DO think some of the images you post are over the top- and if you are trying to help girls break free of their disorder- showing them what they are missing from the pro-ana sites might not be the most helpful thing in the world

  17. Meryt Bast says:

    @.C. – actually, I only eat the orange ones. 😀

  18. .C. says:

    Meryt Bast – Oh, that’s ok then, because orange is my favorite color. :)

  19. Lin412 says:

    People on here who are saying you are being brutal in your posts/posting “triggering” content need to get a grip. Might as well close the curtains and curl up in a ball. Look I suffer from Ed’s too, but I’m smart enough to realize I choose what triggers me and how I act or don’t act to those triggers. A process of recovery is identifying why those images etc. are “triggering” in the first place. Recovery requires work that unleashes all kind of emotions. If you’re not ready to accept that then you obviously never got on the recovery train.

  20. mamaV says:

    Hi Alex: Agreed- my writing is “brutally honest,” and I assure you I do not state anything lightly…much thought goes into each and every post. And if I blow it- I’ll admit it because remember I am here to learn too. :)

  21. mamaV says:

    Hi Sylvia and Liz: Thank you for your perspectives.
    On the ED Digest, I don’t control that my content appears on it…one day I just noticed it was there.
    Regardless, I am not sure I would be in favor of pulling it, because again I believe the core responsibility is on the ED sufferer. You decide to click, and you can decide to click off.
    If an image triggers a set back, then I believe the individual learned from that set back.
    This is all trying to really build up sufferers to deal with the real world….and anyone in inpatient treatment should not be surfing the web!! If they are, that’s scary, and their team isn’t doing their job to keep them isolated if that is part of their treatment plan.
    On the issue whether or not the photos are necessary – I believe absolutely they are. Images provoke thoughts and feelings, represents ideas and topics being discussed. They are sometimes shocking, but isn’t this world shocking??
    Here’s an example we can all think about: Miss Australia anorexic image.
    That image is real.
    That image tells the whole story.
    How can I avoid it?
    Can I avoid it?
    Am I supposed to ignore that news story?
    Many times the topics arise, and I respond to the total and complete ridiculousness of this society! I am hoping that many of you will go “Yeah, this is nuts! There are other people out there with me that are not going for this crap!”
    Ultimately I want change. Change for all women, young and old, ED or not, to just be comfortable in their own skin. This saddens me on a daily basis. The sadness of this consumes me at times…but it is also what motivates me.
    I don’t think about the “audience” I think about the individuals. I think about the society as whole -and for the most part we are going down the sewer and I personally am not going to take it!
    Revolution. I guess that is what I am going for. Starting a damn revolution where women will say “Screw you. I am not wasting another minute of my precious life, on this amazing planet, focused on why I suck. I don’t suck. I am here for a reason, and damn it, that reason is not to starve, purge, and binge.”
    I am not sure if that crazy rant went anywhere, but hopefully you followed! :)

  22. aileb says:

    I started restricting heavily after I visited Hardings “fatosphere.”
    I couldn’t even form two words together to leave a comment. I was suppose to be “looking for similar struggles.”
    But somehow, now, I think it wasn’t a good idea for me to go lurking around.
    I did not know I was not ready to be on the site
    because I had never been on those kind of sites.
    But I made myself leave a comment on the Beauty Pageant post. It took me some time, plenty of tissues, and lot’s of going back and forth in behaviors. It was my small
    victory of the day.
    I didn’t let the image stop me from commenting.
    The next day, when she was on TV and I was eating, I didn’t have a breakdown
    because I had read all the comments and had seen her image here.
    I’m here because I am not recovered. Some days, it’s my only contact with people who aren’t sick like me.
    Sometimes pictures and links do “trigger” me but I am working really hard to get beyond that. It’s not easy.
    I do consider this a recovery site. Sometimes it works for me and I’m able to take a step further and other times I fall down.
    I am glad you’re there to give us the push.
    “I’m smart enough to realize I choose what triggers me and how I act or don’t act to those
    I don’t think that the people requesting warning signs are doing so because they are not “smart enough” to choose what triggers them.
    There are several people on here who are nowhere near recovery, pro-ana, and others as young as 12 years old.
    “Being smart” does not determine whether someone has success with recovery.
    People shouldn’t be made to feel like they aren’t smart enough because they don’t know their triggers.

  23. CJ says:

    I have to tell you that I applaud your post and you are 100% right. Recovery sucks, recovery is hard and there are triggers all around us, home, work, tv, the grocery store, etc. We have to DEAL with reality. There have been many times I have had to make the choice to cut myself off from reading blogs that I knew would trigger me and I was not strong enough at those times to not be triggered…..but I was strong enough to make the choice to stay away because I need to recover and I need to make better choices and take responsibility! You keep your blog real and let everyone sort out what they need to do for themselves… read or not to read, to recover or not, to blame or take responsibility for their choices and the consequences of those choices…….right now I am just feeling strong enough to read some of the blogs I like and I hope to continue feeling strong as I read them, continue making the right choices for recovery for myself but if I can’t read the blogs then I will stop until I am in a better place…..right now its about testing the waters and pushing through with strength for recovery, not hiding out…..

  24. Ali says:

    THIS MADE MY DAY: I guess that is what I am going for. Starting a damn revolution where women will say “Screw you. I am not wasting another minute of my precious life, on this amazing planet, focused on why I suck. I don’t suck. I am here for a reason, and damn it, that reason is not to starve, purge, and binge.”
    Thank you so much. That was so inspiring for someone who is recovering from a relapse and really struggling with it.

  25. prettyshinythings says:

    Mama V, this isn’t a call for self censorship.
    I agree that your blog works precisely because of it’s challenging nature. The world may be full of triggers, but it is not only an eating disorder suffers choice to resist thoose triggers, but also to turn them down.
    For example, my eating disorder was fueled by fashion magazines (I would read up to four a week) and cookbooks, reciepes. These activities were deliberately triggering my illness, but I continued to do them as I knew that they would help me to remain in the ‘safe’ state of illness.
    Eventually, I had to learn how to leave theese triggers in the past. I had to stop collecting and reading, as I knew that they were just serving my eating disorder, not myself.
    The point is that one aspect of my recovery was to give up my triggers. Not the everyday ones, which you cannot prevent, but the ones that I used against myself.
    I would hate an eating disorder sufferer to ever think of your blog as triggering and as a result stop reading your strong and inciteful prose.
    So, although I agree with your arguments, I think that cyberspace is very different to the outside world and it is much easier to focus on the power of the image than if it was featured in a television advert, say.
    By adding ‘warning’ triggers onto potentialy harmful and upsetting posts, you are letting those in recovery chose their own battles, rather than a forced confrontation.
    If you made it to the end, thankyou for reading. I respect your opinion, MamaV.

  26. mamaV says:

    Hi prettyshinythings: Made it to the end. Thank you for your insightful comments.
    At the end of the day, I have to look myself in the mirror and know that I am representing myself and my beliefs in this blog. That said, can’t to the trigger warning because I know in the long run I am helping more than hurting (plus if I started that…don’t you think I would be basically adding it to every post?)

  27. mamaV says:

    Howdy Meryt: Loving the gumdrops comments…leave it to this group to miss the entire point and start zoning out on the candy.
    Thanks for the good laugh!

  28. cara says:

    I deal with reality shoving diet ads and products and images down my throat enough to not have to worry about triggering images when i’m reading an eating disorder/body activism blog.
    consider this one reader lost. this is just naive. if you want to create an environment for non-ed sufferers to be aware of media imagery then post all the potentially triggering content you want. however, you shouldn’t bill yourself as some sort of pro-recovery blog if you are going to have a “deal with it because you’ll have to” attitude.
    i’m dealing with it by not reading your blog any more.

  29. Heidi says:

    I agree. Well said MamaV

  30. Brianne says:

    My opinion lies somewhere in the middle here.
    #1. MamaV’s blog. She can post what she wants. She can also receive whatever feedback those posts provoke.
    #2. The world isn’t censored. We DO need to learn to face triggers.
    #3. The world has plenty of triggering content. Do we honest-to-god have to argue that those who replicate it aren’t “responsible” for posting it, too? After all– “personal responsibility”, right? When, since kindergarten, has the “she did it first!!” excuse ever been appropriate?
    #4. I see no reason why trigger links can’t be provided. IMHO, it’s a great compromise, and a ‘win-win’ for everyone: MamaV posts what she wants and reaches the people who like that message, and others can stumble upon an “ed advocacy” blog without getting too far in before realizing it’s filled with triggers (if they’re not ready yet).
    #5. Let’s not forget also, that MamaV’s site needs ratings. As with any media, “aNa ChiCkz” sells. MamaV’s not dumb. Selfish, maybe, but not dumb.
    I do wonder about what MamaV’s level of concern for the girls *IN* the images is. Does she ever wonder if they find it difficult when everyone is focusing on their thinness? What about if they’ve recovered long ago, and beat themselves up every day because they put ‘thinsperation’ out there that other people are now being hurt by?
    In summary: Yep, triggers are everywhere. Yep, we need to learn to deal with them. However, we need to find a balance between blatantly placing triggering content in front of an audience that is KNOWN to be vulnerable, and absolving ourselves of all blame by claiming “personal responsibility”.
    Sure, you can argue that triggers are important media tools. But I think we should seriously take a look at the results. How much of an effect has MamaV’s blog REALLY had on the world? Personally, I know it as one place where thinsperation is freely available, and it won’t be taken down because it’s under the guise of “advocacy”. Rant & rave all you want, but it speaks volumes when your actions directly conflict with your goals, i.e.: We need positive female images, and we need to stop glorifying anorexic bodies…..but I’m going to entice readers and sell stories by using those exact images myself….but, it’s not like *I* posted thinsperational images online….oh, wait, I totally did….but it’s all about YOUR (i.e. mentally ill, struggling ED patients) “personal responsibility” to take care of yourself while walking into this minefield I’ve set up for you.
    Way to go Mama!

  31. Brianne says:

    Whoops– just realized I made a typo in the above post:
    #4 should include the phrase “trigger warnings”, not trigger links….

  32. Danni says:

    Straightforwardness is refreshing. And as much as I hate to say it, I think it’s right not to coddle. For the most part (as there are no absolutes). I think it’s right because I’m one of those people who is emotionally manipulative and self-deceiving and self-destructive and so on. And the only people who can save someone like that is themselves, and the best help that can be offered is reality. Like I said, I hate to say it, because my instinct is to claim weakness and beg pity and all that, but at the end of the day, each person chooses how they deal with things.

  33. Jera says:

    I have been reading through this blog (and by the way, it’s wonderful) and this post compelled me to comment. Thank you for what you wrote MamaV. I hate hearing people complaining about “triggers” and expecting others to accomodate them by censoring themselves apparently. The real world, people I know, people who love me, my own head; those are the sources of the worst triggers, not a website with so-called “thinspirational” photos that are accompanied with educational information, critical and reflective commentary and a space for discussion where people can speak their minds and put the photos in its proper context.
    I differentiate between “pro ana” sites and informative sites like these. In no way are EDs promoted here or normalized. I don’t see any “dieter’s psalms”, Carolyn Costin’s “thin commandments” or calorie count guides around here. I see posts of issues concerning eating disorders and body image.
    And if “thinspiration” photos draw “pro anas” here, at least they’re in a place where they could learn something and maybe over time seek out different kinds of support.

  34. Rosie says:

    I’m so tired of being the victim MamaV, I’m so tired of being seen as just wanting to be a victim when in fact I am truly suffering. I definatly agree with the reality you choose to expose, because in the real world thats still how things are, what with the biggest loser being 5’7″ or 5′ 6″ i think and weighing in finally at 117 pounds. She was applauded for that while I just thought about how that exact number was my first “goal weight” in the beginning of this hell. I need to fight and I need to cry and I need to thank you for this blog that always puts a smile on my face. Yesterday, (btw i know i need to learn how to transition into different topics haha) i suffered my first panic attack. Hopefully my last since it was triggered from lo carb monsters, over exercisising to burn over 1000cals and from purging my only meal before i started my work out. I don’t know how i’m still alive. But your blog lets me see much more than the usual, the calorie counting and the photoshopped models, I see that I can’t give up in this world obsessed with being thin. I’m still fucking scared and apprehensive about it and its hard to take responsibilty but I need to grow up already. I’ve been stuck, unable to learn for the past years because all I’ve got is a Master’s in ED and nothing to show for it, sickening but not even a tiny bod.

  35. Kara says:

    “Then what? Curl up in the corner? Or walk past it, head held high because you finally know who you are?
    This is reality.
    I’m a realist.
    You must go elsewhere to be coddled.
    Because girls, if you take this away from me, well… this blog is no longer a blog. It’s just another pat on the back, that eventually pushes you into the water to see if you can swim.
    You can swim.
    I know you can swim.
    So, I keep pushing.
    My hope is that one of those pushes will be the spark you need to get on with your life.”
    Ironic that you use that comment to justify posting triggering content, yet you don’t see the ultimate irony–
    Try flipping this around as something that could be said by any one of the advertising executives that you bash and complain about each and every single day.
    At what point does personal responsibility come in?
    When do you stop being an angry victim, helpless to stand up to all this media crap, and find something to do with your life?

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