Pro Ana is what it says on the tin, the promotion of eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. Supposedly a non-judgmental environment for anorexics; a place for support and discussion however many of these websites have been accused of recruiting and encouraging new anorexics and spurring vulnerable young girls already suffering from the illness further in. Eating disorders are a recognised mental illness but others refer to it as a “lifestyle choice” that should be respected. Many believe they are part of a movement and almost treat anorexia as a kind of cult, wearing a red bracelet as a secret message that they are ‘proud to be Pro Ana’. Don’t Panic look at the worst advice found on these sites and the most shocking images that are put up as inspiration to young girls.
This dark cyber world first came about in 2001 as a means for anorexics to communicate and confide in each other but instead it has lead to girls to become addicted to these forums, alienating themselves from the real world. Eating disorders are often lonely with many girls suffering in silence, therefore these forums were originally seen as a place of support. However having been on the sites and reading what gets posted this is certainly not the case. Perhaps I’m being pessimistic but read this and see if you think this offers support:
“You will regret eating as soon as those calories slip down your tonsils. You will get cellulite. Don’t you dare go anywhere near food! Don’t touch it what do you want to become a fat cow? If you eat right now, you will end up standing over the toilet, puking it all up until you see blood and water and your stomach aches. Don’t eat fattie. Don’t fail me. Don’t eat.”
This is just a small quote from a section called ‘pep talk’. You can read the read the rest at this link http://ana-beauty.webs.com/inspiration.htm
. Harsh words for a forum that is supposed to provide support for girls with mental illnesses, don’t you think?
They also feature sections entitled ‘Things to do instead of eating’, ‘10 commandments’ and ‘40 reasons not to eat’ which include words of wisdom such as:
* You will be fat if you eat today, just put it off one more day.
* Nothing tastes as good as thin feels
* You don’t NEED food
* Only fat people are attracted to fat people. Do you want pigs to like you because your one of them?
Pro Ana sites are not illegal but looking at the above you would think they should be. What’s even worse is that these sites can be so easily accessed, it only takes typing the words ‘anorexia’ into a Google for a Pro Ana site to appear. Search engines often do ban websites associated with Pro Mia or Ana but they reinvent themselves and get back on as quickly as they come down. Most of these websites feature photos of severely anorexic people as a means of inspiration or the lingo on these sites is commonly “thinspiration”. They also compete with each other and offer advice on how to get to their ideal weight which is reiterated “underweight is perfect”. Recipes such as this one give girls ideas of what to eat:
“Pick one food for the day, like an apple. Cut it into 8 slices. Eat 2 slices at breakfast, 2 at lunch, and 2 at dinner, that way you’ll have two left for snacks. That way your body thinks it’s eating 4 times a day but in reality you’ve only had one apple”. http://www.prettythin.com/anabeauty.htm
With folk constantly going on about how good it is that plus size is becoming accepted, raging about plus size magazines, plus size runway, plus size clothing range, in some sense they are kind of pro-being-fat. But surely it’s one extreme to another, why can no one seem to find the balance? Should more effort be made to make these sites illegal or at least not so easily accessible? But some argue that people who are alone in their illness seek some kind of community in these sites and if that were taken away from them they would be in the dark. Despite how awful these sites appear some people rely on them. Perhaps everything is not so black and white.