I just found out today that there are a lot of websites and forums promoting anorexia and bulimia. Those who support this are referred to as ‘pro-ana’ (pro anorexia) or ‘pro-mia’ (pro bulimia). They also use pet names for eating disorders such as ‘Ana’ or ‘Anna’ for anorexia nervosa and ‘Belle’, ‘Bella’, or ‘Mia’ for bulimia. ‘thinspiration’ is the term used for emulating thin celebrities such as Nicole Richie, Calista Flockhart, and Kate Moss. I’m still shocked about this so let me just quote from wikipedia for awhile.
Pro-ana websites were first developed to counter the many support websites which encourage and strive to aid in recovery from anorexia. Many people with anorexia attempt to justify their desire to achieve an extremely slim figure by claiming that it is not a mental illness, but an alternative lifestyle, or else they do see anorexia as a disease, but choose not to recover. Many doctors who treat anorexia see pro-ana as a life-threatening danger to people with anorexia and those at risk for it.
A common assumption is that these sites are actively trying to recruit new members, but this is almost never the case. Some pro-ana websites are fairly exclusive; others always welcome new members into the fold, whether they wish for support in recovery or illness; yet others do not accept those who are recovering or wish to recover. These sites often include tips on how to stay anorexic or be “better” at it, and tips about how to hide the symptoms from concerned friends and family members, but rare is the site that directly encourages healthy people to become anorexic.
Recently pro-ana has acquired a political dimension, especially in the United States, where participants present themselves as a walking protest against the consumer culture.
Pro-anorexia websites can offer advice, such as admonishing readers to avoid the use of syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting. Some claim that they can also be a place for people with anorexia to talk with others like themselves, and possibly improve self-esteem over their choice to remain anorexic. Researchers at Queen Margaret University College in Edinburgh found that the social interaction on the sites provided emotional support to vulnerable women that helped them manage their problems.
Less-friendly pro-ana sites vigorously castigate and mock those who decide to seek treatment for anorexia; however, most are not anti-recovery, and a person with anorexia who wishes to recover can find support for his or her choice through this network. Some of these websites are what are called ED-acceptance sites. They can provide an environment of support to people with anorexia, regardless of which choice the anorexic person makes. In some ways this could be seen as a response to the lack of medical and psychological support available to the individual. Alternatively the individual does not feel comfortable or able to express their views to their friends or family because of their cultural or psychological environment. With out support the individual may seek comfort and reassurance elsewhere in an environment which they feel the can openly express their true feelings without repercussions or any pressure to change. As eating disorders can be very isolating diseases others can find it difficult to understand or too distressing. The disease itself often manifests itself in the individuals silence encouraging professionals to believe that this may allow the disease to progress more agressively or for a longer period before the individual may receive treatment.
read the rest here
I find this very disturbing and alarming. Most of the people who join such communities are teens who have very low self-esteem or have been abused in the past. I think they need our help but how do we help them when most of media and society praise those stick thin celebrities? I’m still at a loss and I’m very saddened about this.