Monday, March 9, 2009

And it all started when....

The phenomenon of the Pro-Anorexia web community has seen its hey day. The sites existed as an underground and secret community. It was not until the early 2000's that such sites got media exposure. At this point many were shut down. Yahoo and other hosts claimed that they had violated their user agreements not to post anything dangerous and harmful. The exposure of such sites caused an uproar in the media. The sites changed the way that many healthcare professionals were to deal with girls in treatment. More importantly for online members and website hosts, their identity, function and practices would have to be renegotiated. 
Many sites are now inactive and the sites that do exist lead to dead links. This has been a frustrating aspect of research, but it also speaks to not only the way in which these sites are subject to closure, but also to the fact that there seems to be an ambivalence towards eating disorders themselves. A common theme that permeates these sites is the inconsistency between Anorexia as a lifestyle and Ana as a burden. The turmoil expressed must reach a certain point until many of these girls and women seek treatment (this is a common pattern for those who suffer with EDs). These two factors, (sites being shut down as well as their authors abandoning the community to seek treatment) would explain the sudden inactivity. 


  1. is shutting down such sites a good thing? Maybe these people were crying out for help!?

  2. Dealing with severe (or even moderate) forms of ED is often accompanied with a sense of shame coming from a social stigma, which can push you towards strong denial and create a barrier from seeking treatment. I am not saying explicitely pro-ana sites are good (especially NOT with thinspiration), but I can see how young girls could find it comforting to encounter other girls cultivating that type of disorder without being constantly reminded there is something wrong with them and told they should get treated or even interned. I believe it can be seen as a shelter from that social pressure, and open the door to the acknowledgement of the eating disorder (the first and important step towards seeking help - i believe you can only really get out of ED by genuinely wanting to). Now, while remaining in this type of comforting circle can be severely alienating and dangerous, I believe these sites can be a starting point (but obviously not a necessary one!!) towards remission, if only the opportunity and resources for treatment can come up smoothly, with the right mind set... But would there be some opportunity to crack in, you think?