For [some], Ana is a person --- a voice that directs their every move when it comes to food and exercise.
"She's someone who's perfect. It's different for everyone --- but for me, she's someone who looks totally opposite to the way I do," says Kasey Brixius, a 19-year-old college student from Hot Springs, S.D.
To Brixius --- athletic with brown hair and brown eyes --- Ana is a wispy, blue-eyed blonde.
"I know I could never be that," she says, "but she keeps telling me that if I work hard enough, I CAN be that."
For others, the devotion goes beyond that:
- "People pray to Ana to make them skinny," says Sara, a 17-year-old in Columbus, Ohio, who was an avid organizer of Ana followers until she recently entered treatment for her eating disorder. She spoke on the condition that her last name not be used.
Ana, if you haven't guessed, is Anorexia Nervosa, personified and deified people who have the disorder and are proud of it. And quite aside from the horrific health consequences of this -- Sara quit organizing when she realized "I was helping girls kill themselves" -- some anthropologist certainly ought to be studying this as a gift-wrapped example of apotheosis in the wild.