Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pro-Anorexia songs? "Lucy at the Gym" and "Supermodel"

(Originally posted by Jill on Feb 13, 2008)


A couple of months ago, I Googled myself (not the coolest thing to do). It's surprising and strange what comes up, especially when checking out the blogs. Some of the more interesting, or rather disturbing hits I get, are on "pro-ana" sites. Now, for the unaware - and I was until I found two of my songs listed as "thinspiration" - pro-ana sites are forums for mostly young girls who have anorexia or bulimia... and see it as a good thing.

They are pretty stunning and...very twisted. They have adoring pictures of rail-thin celebrities like the Olsen Twins and Posh Spice. There are recipes (?) and tips on suppressing hunger pains: "You can train yourself to forget hunger by gently punching your stomach every time you get hungry because you'll hurt too bad to eat."

I think now I should tell you that I, Jill of Provocateur semi-fame, suffered with an eating disorder in the 80s. It was miserable, and a waste of six years. However, it has, as well as other youthful troubles, made me who I am today. My art and song-writing, I am sure, has also been marked by those years. "Lucy at the gym", and "Supermodel"(from the movie, Clueless), would not have been born, if not for it.

So, Lucy, the star of my song, is a girl who won't eat and can't stop exercising. I have great empathy for her, but this is no "pro-ana" song - in fact, quite the opposite. I was curious why some saw it as such, so I emailed Terra Atril, who writes eatingdisorder.com, on why she added the song to her top 10 list of "pro-ana" songs. Here's what she said:

"Well, I could put some real thought into this, or I could go with instinct basically just blame it on a cross between the lyrics and young-eating-disordered minds being fickle. People truly in the thick of an eating disorder have a combination of suicidal tendencies and god complex. "Lucy" is a character who can be seen as a deity, an example of how to live, and maybe die."

Amazing. But what is also of interest is how thoughtful and smart this "pro-ana" Terra Atril is. She went on to say:

"people read into lyrics BIG TIME and people with mental illnesses, especially, are capable of seeing any meaning possible from literally any combination of words. Another example I didn't include would be Radiohead's 'Creep'. It's obviously not about eating disorders, but the lines, "I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul," just hits people the right way, I suppose.
I was originally planning on the inclusion of "Supermodel," but "Lucy...." just seemed more apt and what the masses (as it were) would be looking for. Plus, "Supermodel" could be construed too easily as tongue-in-cheek and honestly, the last thing people with eating disorders need is to feel mocked."


By the way, other "pro-ana" songs on the list were "Ana's Song" by Silverchair and Fiona Apple's "Paper Bag".

Now before I gross you out with a youtube video of "Lucy at The Gym" posted by some poor sick girl, I should tell you that the song has also been used in a more positive therapeutic way. In February, which by the way is Eating Disorder Awareness Month, a director from an eating disorder clinic asked permission to use the song:

"I think that "Lucy at the Gym" is a very powerful song. I am using it in a slideshow to illustrate to others what it feels like to have an eating disorder. I think it is the perfect song because of the honest depiction of "Lucy". I think the song along with pictures of calorie counts, the word diet in cereal, and the scale show the real torment of eating disorders. I am planning on showing the slideshow in a presentation at the University of Texas at El Paso.
I hope to use the song to assist in raising awareness and promote the prevention of eating disorders."


Phew! Well, at least most people, I hope, get the intention of the song. Anyway, here's the lyric to "Lucy at the Gym", followed by a completely disturbing video. And, no I don't approve of this youtube.

Lucy at the gym. She's there every time I go
and I don't go that often, so she must live at the gym
I stare at her ribs they show through the spandex
Her little legs are working, she's going somewhere
She's climbing up the stairs and when she reaches the top
her dreams will be there

Lucy at the gym. Lucy on the scale for the third time
Thru thick and thin, Lucy's at the gym
She's staring at the clock and like the 2nd hand she never stops
She's Lucy at the gym

When she takes a shower, after all the hours
Does she have a place to go.Is there someone waiting
Or is Lucy all alone

I'm at the gym and Lucy's not there
It's got me kinda worried so I imagine the worst
She's made it up to heaven
And when she met her maker, he said "come right in"
"I'll show you around the gym"
"Everyone's beautiful and thin"
"And here there's no sin, and your life can begin
Lucy at the gym"



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