Pro-ana. If you have an eating disorder, this is a term that most of you are very familiar with. You know that it is a relatively new movement of people worldwide who believe in promoting dangerous forms of weight-loss, starvation, and encouraging others to obtain rather disturbing skeletal physiques. In other words, it is a movement that is pushing people to become anorexic. In order to galvanize more young recruits to support this cult-like campaign, dedicated pro-ana believers have created rather addictive websites that lurk in the dark corners of the internet. These sites contain a gallery of emaciated young women that the sites pass as images of an ideal body. They have a forum where ill girls post their extremely low goal weights, measly caloric intakes, and tips on how to hide their hazardous weight-loss from their loved ones and even medical professionals! The most startling thing of all though is the fact that these sites possess a library of bizarre dietary regimes like the rainbow diet (where on each day of the week you eat a different color food and consume just a little more than 600kcal for the whole week!) or the Russian gymnast diet (where you eat nothing but fruit and drink just carbonated water and fruit juice for a week). When a lot of folks hear that websites like this even exist, they are in complete shock. They demand every pro-ana site be ripped out of cyberspace forever so no more naïve young girls and woman can stumble across these sites and be pulled into its deadly clutches.
Though I completely agree that these sites should be banned, my logical belief doesn’t come without controversy. The leaders and followers of the pro-ana cult claim that their websites are a place of so-called support for those trapped in the firm grasp of their disease. They say that these sites connect them with people who actually understand what they are going through, allowing them to feel less isolated as they live with such a merciless illness. Struggling with an eating disorder myself, I can empathize with this. It really is quite difficult to find someone who won’t judge you when you are struggling with eating disorder behaviors. I mean, family and friends usually dismiss you and just tell you to “eat more”, doctors have a reputation of threatening you with hospitalization when you try to talk about the fact you are starving yourself, and therapists can be just down right annoying. So, this obviously leaves you with nowhere else to turn. I really think that’s why people begin to immerse themselves in the online pro-ana culture, even though it can unknowingly lead them to their grave.
The followers of pro-ana say that without their disturbing websites, they would have no one to turn to and will therefore be forced to turn to something more dangerous for comfort. This includes self-harm or even ending their own life. To be honest with you though, these sites are already encouraging a slow form of suicide (starvation) and these sites really aren’t supporting the person, they are supporting the eating disorder. These sites need to be shut down and positive pro-recovery sites should begin to infiltrate the internet instead. Pro-recovery sites are the sites that offer true support and hope for those struggling with an eating disorder. They have no triggering images, no absurd diets, and no commandments demanding that in order to be beautiful you must be thin.
Here are a list of sites that are 100% pro-recovery and will give you the support YOU need to live the life YOU deserve!
- Something Fishy: a remarkable pro-recovery website that has been encouraging individuals to kick their ED right in the butt since 1995!
- Eating Disorder Hope: this site contains tons of valuable information for both sufferers and family members of those with eating disorders. It also contains a wonderful online “toolbox” of recovery resources!’
- We Bite Back: one of my favorite pro-recovery sites just for people with eating disorders. This website contains an extremely supportive forum that helps people say goodbye to ED once and for all.