Eating Disorder Communities
By Emily, age 19, Newfoundland
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
You've all probably come across online porn at least once in your life. It's becoming a little bit hard to avoid. But in the last month have you come across a pro-anorexia website, developed for the sole purpose of providing support from one sister to another?*
Even 10 years ago, one of the main characteristics of an eating disorder was the isolation each person feels. Now, thanks to the miracle of the internet, girls (and in some cases guys) can communicate with others and talk about their disorder like it was a day-to-day activity.
Some pro-anorexia (or "pro-ana") websites take the form of a blog. Whether you have Xanga, LiveJournal, or even MySpace, it's very easy to stumble across them. They have their own groups and webrings, which makes it even easier to come across these pro-ana sites.
So here's a general breakdown of a pro-ana blog: First of all, people with eating disorders will list all of the foods they've eaten that day, and sometimes include the number of calories for each piece of food they've eaten. They do this because the theory is that if you physically see what you've eaten, you'll be grossed out enough to stop eating.
Next, they might post some thinspo. The word thinspo is short for thinspiration, meaning they post pictures of skinny people to give them inspiration to stay away from that cookie. These pictures can range from regular girls to well-known celebrities, sometimes those who don't even have an eating disorder.
Next, they try to plan their meals for the day and say they're going to stick to them. They usually update the next day if time permits.
I heard of these pro-ana sites a few years ago on Oprah, when one of her usual reporters came on the show and did a segment on the dangers of these sites. These sites are extremely dangerous, whether you have an eating disorder or not.
If you don't have an eating disorder or are recovering from an eating disorder, you should stay away from these sites. They unintentionally suck you into their community with their supportive words and you may become curious about their lifestyle.
The truth is, eating disorders are not glamorous and they are not easy to deal with.
* You can read my article in the May issue of SDM about how I was drawn into my former lifestyle of Disordered Eating in part through the "support" of pro-ana websites.