Disturbing pro-anorexia sites garner attention
Published: Saturday, April 28, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 17:08
“I believe that I am the most vile, worthless and useless person ever to have existed on this planet, and I am totally unworthy of anyone's time and attention. I believe that other people who tell me differently must be idiots. If they could see how I really am, then they would hate me almost as much as I do. I believe in ought’s, musts and should as unbreakable laws to determine my daily behavior. I believe in perfection and strive to attain it.”
This is a creed posted on a pro-anorexia website.
In 2005, the National Eating Disorder Association reported “over one half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors.”
“Not enough emphasis is being placed on a realistic and healthy body image,” said Kiernan Glenn, a DePaul sophomore.
According to internetworldstats.com there were only 16 million Internet users in 1996. Fifteen years later that number has grown to 2.2 billion. It’s obvious that technology has been integrated into daily life and anyone seeking a sadistic brand of support is only a few clicks away. With the addition of new apps and social networking, validation from an online eating disorder community is even easier.
One blogger on proanalog.worldpress.com stated, “As I mentioned before, I will be using the iPhone App MyFitnessPal to track my caloric intake and my exercise.”
Another posted, “i am a 12 year old girl, i need a girl ana buddy, cause im so frickin fat. i weigh 108 and im only 5'2. thats disgusting.”
An “Ana buddy” is someone used to fuel the mental illness cloaked within the eating disorder. Instead of suggesting medical attention, this person encourages methods, offers advice and suggests tips as to how to retain weight loss. One can be found online in a chat room or open forum.
These online communities are designed to provide a space of tolerance for the lifestyles associated with an eating disorder. They even promote it. “Die hard Ana's already know what this means” one website states in reference to the bracelet project. Here, girls who refer to themselves as “Ana” (short for anorexia) wear a red beaded bracelet around the left wrist. Girls who refer to themselves as “Mia” wear a blue beaded bracelet around the right wrist.
Proanalifestyle.blogspot.com states, “If we all wear our bracelets, we can recognize each other, and so we can help each other! So please, don't wait!”
Sites like pro-ana-nation.com outline ideals of perfection by defining what it means to be thin. “Thinspiration”, a technique used to motivate girls posts pictures of glamorized emaciation and specified rib cages. Within its confines, vulnerable victims can view other girls participating in their daily struggle.
These websites also post life-threatening tips designed to increase weight loss. A visitor can find the best brand of laxatives, herbal supplements and ephedra stimulants in one short search. One website provides advice like “Eat in front of the mirror naked” and “Punish yourself every time you eat”.
“It’s haunting that young girls are supposed to look like this. They think the only way they can be beautiful is by being impossibly thin,” said Glenn.
Besides legitimizing dangerous ways to reach the image of perfection, websites validate extreme dieting methods. Anabones.wetpaint.com ranks the “Russian Gymnast Diet” as one of the most popular methods and states that it was used by Irina Tschachina, silver medal winner of the Athens 2004 Olympics. According to the website, her daily consumption consisted of one glass of juice for breakfast, fruit salad for lunch and an apple for dinner.
One anonymous blogger stated, “I am not encouraging people to do what I am doing. I am simply looking for support and advice from other girls already in the Pro Ana lifestyle and I am hoping that logging this publicly will solidify my changes.”