“I passed by the full-length mirror on the wall near the door. I caught a glimpse of a very thin girl with dead, straight, long, dry peroxided hair and a skimpy outfit like a whorish doll. I turned sideways to look at her. I saw a child. I saw a witch. I saw a dumb blonde.
It took a few seconds for my mind to register that the girl in the mirror was me. I looked her up and down. I was thin, blonde and tanned and I was still not happy.”
Being Ana is the story of one young woman’s fight to find strength in vulnerability, truth in her identity and meaning in being herself.
Shani Raviv is a struggling adolescent living in an eccentric, all-female, diet-free household in South Africa. At age fourteen, belonging to a girl clique, she gets hooked on a system of counting calories that traps her inside a crazed mind.
Over the next decade, Shani embarks on an unholy pilgrimage: from aerobics addict to Israeli soldier to rave bunny to wannabe reborn, she tries to find self-worth in sex, everlasting happiness in drugs and alcohol, comfort in cutting, and above all, salvation in starving.
A spiritual epiphany one night awakens her to the fearful realization that she has lost her sense of self to Anorexia (Ana). Shani has to decide whether to surrender and risk losing Ana-which was all she knew-to go in search of nourishment and her true self in a sane and sober world.
“I feel that the need to provide an intimate look into an anorexic mind has never been more crucial than it is now. As eating disorders reach pandemic proportions, anorexia nervosa is gaining a reputation for being a legitimate psychiatric disorder,” Ms. Raviv says. “Anorexia is much more than a diet gone wrong, a coping mechanism, an addiction or a girl’s vain attempt to perfect her image; anorexia becomes your life, your vocation, your ugly truth. However, choosing to surrender and seek help is a decision that can lead to full recovery.”
Shani Raviv is the author of the recently published, Being Ana: a Memoir of Anorexia Nervosa. Ms. Raviv is a South African/Israeli freelance writer, columnist and copy editor who has written for leading South African newspapers and magazines. She lives in Seattle, WA and leads creative writing and mini-memoir writing workshops and offers readings and talks for “being Ana.”
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