The story of the potential criminalization of the pro-anorexia movement in France.
Arresting Ana is a 26-minute documentary about what some French women are choosing not to do – choosing not to feed their bodies – and how they could soon become criminals in the eyes of French law for it.
Valerie Boyer is a passionate legislator on a mission to restore the health, eating habits and body images of the French. According to Boyer, the uncanny power of French women to stay svelte in the country of foie gras, wine and cheese has fallen victim to globalization and has led to a skyrocketing rise in not only obesity, but in eating disorders too.
Boyer’s remedy: a pioneering law that renders promoting eating disorders illegal by punishing or fining magazines, blogs and websites that present extreme thinness as a beauty trait. Boyer’s law, which still faces a vote in the Senate, is the strongest of its kind anywhere and particularly resonates in France, the country of haute couture, of gastronomy, and of the birthplace of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Sarah, 18, is a college student in Pau who is terrified of what might happen to her if Boyer’s law passes. For about two hours a day, Sarah writes on her own blog titled “I want to be perfect…” Sarah’s blog is one of about 500 Pro-Ana blogs, online forums on which young women share tips and tricks on how to become anorexic, hide it from their parents, and share poems they write to the goddess “Ana”. Ana is short for anorexia. To the alarm of Boyer, “Ana” is at the center of a global underground movement that promotes self-starvation. But for Sarah, Ana is a friend, a support system, and a motivation to stay alive. If Boyer’s law passes in the Senate this spring, Sarah will not only be battling a disease, but she will also become a criminal who could face a $30,000 fine and up to two years in jail.
While Boyer strives to save lives, Sarah, on the other hand, believes that if her right to chronicle her illness on her blog is taken away from her, she could find herself among the 22% of French anorexics who die each year.