Dear Ana: The Secret World of Anorexia
To eat or not to eat? This is a seemingly simple question. But to Alice, a 21-year-old girl suffering at the hands of anorexia, this one small decision changes everything.
Living her torment through her own imagined world, Alice finds herself at a mysterious banquet table in the company of two strange but intriguing women who both attempt to seduce her with their ideas of happiness. Gluttony and starvation both have dire repercussions, but with no other choice, Alice must decide.
Eating disorders are conditions in which there is a serious disturbance in the way a person deals with food, weight, and body image. Most of the time, eating disorders develop because of emotional or psychological problems, rather than wanting to be skinny. It becomes a way of dealing with emotions. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and can lead to a whole range of medical problems including hair loss, low heart rate, loss of periods, tooth erosion and osteoporosis.
From the director: "I made this film as a film student at The Farnham University of the Creative Arts. This film is very personal to me as it comes from my younger sister suffering with anorexia. I found out about her disorder after discovering her 'Thinspiration' diary which was full of images of skeletal models to aspire to, hints, and tips on how to starve yourself and how to hide it from your family and friends, but worst of all letters from a women named Ana telling my sister what a hideous fat cow she is, how she will never amount to anything, and how starving herself to perfection is the only way she will ever be truly happy. After approaching my sister about the diary, she showed me a whole world I never knew existed – the anorexic world. Everything from the diary came from a range of online websites, blogs, and forums, a huge percentage of them promoting anorexia as a lifestyle choice not a disease, and 'Ana' (the personification of anorexia) being the leader.
As well as my sister, a good friend of mine has suffered with anorexia to the extreme and has been kind enough to open up to me about her experiences. These two stories inspired me to make this film and raise awareness about a mental illness affecting so many of our loved ones. Seeing a loved one suffering is hard, and through my film I want to speak out to anyone who can relate, and let them know that they aren't alone."