Dana, the 8 year old anorexic

Most of you probably heard about this young girl last year, Dana, the 8 year old struggling with an anorexia. I stumbled upon this documentary style video about her and I wanted to share it for comments and thought.

  1. Why do you think the age of anorexics is getting younger and younger? My answer — media, fashion, mothers on diets, and yes — genetics hidden in there somewhere.
  2. Can we say that eating disorders are MORE influenced by environment/media than genetic factors? (I say undoubtedly YES)
  3. If you have an ED, can you remember how old you were when those self hate feelings started? (For me, not until I started modeling at 15)

Part 1: Dana’s story and the start of inpatient treatment which she calls “The Torture Chamber”

Part 2: More about Rhodes Farm, Dana’s treatment center, and Dana’s resistance to weight loss through compulsive exercise.

Part 3: More about treatment center rituals and requirements, and Dana speaks about why she is anorexic.

Part 4: Tricks of the Trade

Part 5: Dana starts to eat, only so she can leave the center. Parents visit.

Part 6: Control, control, control.

Part 7: Dana reaches target weight and is allowed to go home. Recovered?





About mamaV

Former Paris model providing advice for eating disorder sufferers who aspire to be thin, follow the proana lifestyle, and lack self esteem.
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19 Responses to Dana, the 8 year old anorexic

  1. love2eatinpa says:

    woohoo! using a different web browser finally allowed me to leave a comment!

    anywho, wow, this was one scary set of videos. i wonder if they ever did a follow up to see if this little girl was still doing well.

    it is horrifying that girls that young are anorexic and so concerned about how their bodies look. i agree, it is definitely the media/environment that makes children this way.

    for me, however, the compulsive overeating that i began at that age, came from turning to food for the comfort and nurturing i didn’t receive from my parents.

    thanks for sharing this series of videos with us.

  2. anonymous says:

    I’d have to say as a person who has had this illness since I was 13, I stronyly disagree with B. And all the experts I have known and been priviliged to meet that I posted the links in the studies to that I sent you have proven this. Anorexia was around before TV, Before Fashion magazines. I’d like to see you pay more attention to this area instead of always blaming the media as the culprit. Everyone would have an ED if that were the case, in my opinion.

    • anonymous says:

      I agree with you strongly on this point, Anonymous. Well said. I started struggling with feelings of self hate and of my body being ‘wrong’ from the time I was a very small child. My mother being a mental health professional, I come from a home where no one dieted, no one would think for a second to tease you about your body in any way.

      • anonymous says:

        Thanks Anon. Look, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I understand that the environment thing she thinks is more so the cause of Ed’s. But that’s been proven false. You can’t argue with science, and I think she should educate herself by talking to some of the experts that I know about the role genetics plays in Eds. Making statements that media is the cause of Ed’s is completely inaccurate (Again- this has been established) It mis-informs an audience that she is trying to educate on Eds. If you are trying to tackle a subject as serious as this and educate the public on the factors that play into the causes of Ed, you can’t be selective just because it’s your opinion and completely disregard what has been published all over the world and in all kinds of psychiatric and medical journals.

        Earlier this month, I posted a link from Columbia Presbyterian’s Hospital for ED Research where many of these studies have been conducted, one of which I was a participant in. If you read through it, there are tons of studies here- medicine vs. placebo/ brain imaging studies before weight restoration/after weight restoration, brain imaging studies of people who do not nor have ever had an eating disorder in the very fields Mama V speaks of being compared to the brains of people not in those fields who do have full blown eds. I know Mama V didn’t go to medical school, but she could learn a lot from talking to them and reading what they have to say. I know these doctor’s there; I’ve met and worked with them. If you Google the names of the authors who did these studies featured in these links, you will find that they are listed and ranked as some of the most renowned and top experts and physicians in the world on Ed.

        Of course, none of them have ever denied that some level of media in our culture, parental factors, etc play a role. But all the research studies say not nearly as much as a factor as BIOLOGY and GENETICS. I didn’t grow up in a dieting house either, was never told I was fat, never felt any media pressure to be thin and no one ever told me I was overweight. EVER. I still ended up getting anorexia and going through 4 hospitalizations when no one in my family has ever had it. I have listed the links below.



  3. .C. says:

    Just want to point out that I think all these ‘anonymous comments are the same person, and therefore even if ‘anonymous’ has a point, he/she is pretty much classified as a troll by now.


    • Jodi Lynn says:

      I do think that media has a role in eating disorders, but only a minor one. I didn’t grow up in a family where I had access to a lot of magazines, internet, or TV. The movies I watched were also very closely monitored.

      I think that it has a lot more to do with genetics and environment. I have one sibling, an identical twin. We have both struggled with our weight through out our lives. Going from over weight to under weight. Restricting, purging, using laxatives, over-exercising, calorie counting, you name it. She never got to the point of needing Inpatient or residential treatment. I am 26 and have been IP/resi 22 times.

      We grew up in a very strict and conservative family. Our parents had high expectations for us and for the most part we excelled. We were natural perfectionists and this just drove us to be more perfectionistic. I was already severely anorexic at the age of 19, but after my adoptive mom died it only got worse.

      People on both sides of my adoptive parents’ families have struggled with various eating disorders. Although, they are much more prevalent on my mom’s side (which is the side that we grew up closer to). As far as my biological family goes, other addictions are more common, but, both of my half-sisters are morbidly obese.

      So, The thoughts started by the age of five. I started counting calories. At first it was counting fat, but then even at 5 I rationalized that the higher the fat the more the calories, so if I just had to keep my calories to a minimum. I remember having body image problems at the same age. People would pick me up and say, “wow, you’re solid!” And, I took that as meaning that I was fat or over weight. I remember being in the bathtub, bed, swimming pool, or wherever else and my sister and I would compare whose stomach was flatter…in KINDERGARTEN. So, that’s when the thoughts began. As for the behaviors, I started restricting, purging, and over-exercising when I was 12, going into 7th grade. All through out Middle school and high school I would restrict, purge, over-exercise and lose a bunch of weight and people would notice and start commenting. My mom would make comments like, ” you better not be becoming anorexic.” So, I would start eating and gain a little weight back again. Then came college. I spiraled downhill so incredibly fast. I had a roommate with an eating disorder and first semester we had a competition to see who could lose weight the fastest. I won. After first semester I transferred colleges and did well second semester. Then came first semester sophomore year. I went downhill more quickly than ever. I literally locked myself in my room when I wasn’t in class. I starved myself. Towards the end of the semester things were getting bad and I was in the er frequently but I finished the semester with a very high GPA. Over Christmas break I saw my therapist from high school and she FLIPPED out at the weight I had lost. Then I passed out that night. She called my parents the next day and told them how severe it was. Beings that my mom was so sick, they didn’t put me in IP and let me go back to school. I was so sick second semester. I was taking a full load, going to therapy 3 times a week, driving 4 hours each way every weekend because we didn’t know when my mom was going to die, seeing a dietitian, and having regular doctor’s appointments. Then came spring break. My mom died March 18 2004. During spring break. Being the person I am, I decided to go right back to school after break. Little did I know, my friends had a different idea. About 8 or 9 of them had contacted the school counselor and they did an intervention. They said that if I didn’t voluntarily go to treatment, they were going to have me involuntarily court committed. So, one of them drove me all the way home and I was in treatment within a few days. That was 6 years ago. I have pretty much spent the past 6 years IP/resi. BUT, have been out of treatment other than weekly appointments for 6 months now. I am living on my own and gaining more freedom every day. Recovery is possible. I was told I wouldn’t live to the age of 24 and I am now 26!

  4. Anonymous says:

    i know the girl georgie who was in this documentary, she relapsed majorly and had a heart attack and had to go to IP, where i met her. shes so lovely but you can tell by talking to her and getting to know her that whatever led her to developing the ed were deeply rooted in her since she was a small child, and its something i think she’ll always struggle with.
    she does tell me that dana is doing well, but that was about a year ago she told me that so you never know what could happen

  5. Amy says:

    Anyone know how I could contact Dana? FB/MSN/ anything really.

  6. Allison says:

    Anyone know how I could contact Dana? FB/MSN/ anything really. I would like to see hows she’s doing and stuff.

  7. AitchCS says:

    What about the girls and women with ED who DO believe that cultural pressure to be thing contributed to Thier ED.

  8. Chantie says:

    I didn’t watch the videos, but yes, people are developing eating disorders earlier. One thing that has changed (besides the obvious media issues) is that people know about eating disorders. You can ask a ten year old what anorexia is and they will be able to tell you; but they wont know about the psychological effects that it causes (or is caused by) and sometimes they think that it’s a great idea, quick and easy weight loss. But fasting is addictive. Not everyone can fast, it’s a psychological problem that makes it possible to keep it up so sometimes, people binge, they can go into binge eating disorder or maybe bulimia, the lucky ones give up and go back to normal, forget that they ever wanted to be like that and carry on with life.

    Me, I thought that an anorexic was a skinny pretty model until I was 13. I developed an eating disorder at age 11, I just felt horrible about myself and in my mind, I didn’t need to eat food, I was happier without it.
    I never thought that I had a problem, until someone asked me if I was anorexic, I was so shocked. I wasn’t skinny, or pretty, I’d never modeled before. So I googled it. Turns out, I was.

  9. Jamie says:

    I started gymnastics and dance when I was 4 and continued until I was 11. On top of that, my family has always been weird about food. My mom was always anti-sugar and bad food – we’d go to a birthday party and if we had cake we couldn’t have ice cream or pinata candy; we had to pick only one and then we couldn’t have sugar the rest of the day. Comments were made about weight and food and all of that. My mom herself has been up and down in weight and her eating is way out of whack too – she hardly eats at all because of stress and she takes care of everyone else before herself.

    I just remember always being self conscious. At least as far back as fourth grade when I was 8 and 9, if not younger. We had to wear “star belts” for gymnastics and I remember how I would obsess over mine and how big (or small) my stomach was. I always admired tiny girls. When we played outside at recess I would compare my legs to those of my friends. By the time I was 11 and 12 I thought I was soo fat (I was never overweight) and I think I started food journaling when I was 12. My actual ED didn’t really start until I was 13 in my freshman year of high school though. That whole year I just restricted like crazy but eventually cracked and started binging/purging. Gained 25 pounds from that and now today I am still bulimic still “normal” weight but working on recovery. :)

    • Malika says:

      Hi Jamie, I am a mother of 3 beautiful children. I just happened upon the video of Dana while working on a project with my son. My family and I are not familiar with these diseases on a personal level, however, I was so touched by Dana’s story and many others, that I just felt led to let you and anyone else who may read this and is struggling with eating disorders know, there is hope!!! No, you don’t have to live with this for the rest of your lives. There is an answer, there is a cure….His name is Jesus!!! When you get to know Jesus intimately you will learn who you are and what he thinks about you. You will learn how much He cares for you and His perfect will for your life. My family and I will be keeping you and all in general who suffer from these diseases in our daily prayers. However my greatest hope is that you would know Christ as Lord and Savior and that He would rule in your life. Your healing is in Him. Come as you are.
      I dare you to try Him! When you are battling with this life and death issue, choose life by speaking the word of God over your life. Don’t just speak it, believe it!!
      Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
      14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful,I know that full well.

      Seek the Lord Jesus continually….He is a faithful and mighty God and He is so much bigger and greater than any disease known to man.

      May the Lord bless you and keep you all and may you draw near to Him.

  10. bree says:

    C. Im 16…
    I got my ed from the fact that I was loosing how skinny I used to be and looking at my mum who is a fat sh*t… Plus being teased by my family that I will end up like her :/

  11. Josephinie says:

    ‘Video has been removed by user’.
    No fair.

  12. K says:

    I believe Dana was sexually abused and that’s what led to her anorexia. She had said more than once she stopped eating because she wanted to die, and her brother made (what seemed to me) a rather creepy/leading comment about her “backside” that made me wonder if he molested her. Not saying the brother is necessarily the culprit or a child molester, but I definitely think this kid was sexually abused and that’s the cause, and I think she was quite aware of it and afraid to say anything. I have to say I was somewhat disgusted by the woman who ran the place… “she’s too young to express herself.” How could people possibly think that when the girl was so intelligent, articulate, and wise beyond her years? The segment where they show her therapy session is very revealing if you pay close attention and are familiar with how an abused person who knows telling will cause them more harm reacts.

  13. peta says:

    Dana is indeed recovered ,and lives overseas now ,she a happy teenager with lots of friends ,who visits the U.K. often.She keeps in touch with many she was in rhodes farm with .
    It did her a lot more good than a hospital bed and probably save her life.
    Dee is not the tyrant she comes across as shes saving these kids lives,she really does get it.Many arrived there literally starving! this was there last chance
    And she would only use medical intervention when peole are severely compromised
    Dana has grown into a beautiful vibrant girl.
    Im not sure why she developed an ed,nobody is ,maybe not even Dana herself..but ive seen more than one 8 (and under) year old do so,and they werent all abused.
    That said Dana is the only one who truly knows unless she decides to tell otherwise.i hoe rhodes farm hasnt changed too much with the sale .After Dee sold rhodesfarm and has moved on .
    but shes still working in the same area.which is good to know :)

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