Ever hear the saying you must take the good in with the bad? For most of us, the world wide web is used on a daily basis. From ordering movie tickets to watching a quick Youtube on how to do Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” dance, it’s safe to say you can search for just about anything. But what about everything in between? Just as you can use the Internet in a positive way, leaves an even greater chance to use it in a negative way. The web is filled with portals of dissenting sites. One in particular is Pro-Ana, which is a self-hate site used to influence anorexia to young teens.
Pro-Ana, stands for Pro-anorexia, and means the promotion of eating disorders. These namesake websites are created by those who suffer from eating disorders and are used to communicate with others affected. The websites hold tips on how to be anorexic and bulimic. The tips include hiding weight loss from your parents and friends, how to lose weight quickly, and how to suppress being hungry all the time. The websites often include pictures of models and celebrities who are very thin. This is called “thinspiration,” which circles around thinking “thin” all the time.
Throughout the years the websites followers have grown. Oprah Winfrey featured a show on these websites and spoke out to major search engines to shut them down. Most have, but websites like MySpace, Facebook, and Xanga still hold the Pro-ana groups and its followers.
Some Pro-Ana websites are not all used to promote eating disorders. Some host inspiration and help from those recovering from eating disorders. The websites hold non-judgmental material and have become a place of safety for those who are suffering with an eating disorder.
“These websites can be dangerous to girls and boys especially if their self-esteem is already low to begin with, Dr. Sonya Reddy, a psychiatrist in Long Island Jewish Hospital in New Hyde Park said. “I would hope that the person would be smart to get out of there and make decisions for themselves, but I hear from so many how great it feels to be understood; that others think like them as well.”
Eating disorders are very serious illnesses that effect males and females of all ages. It is possible to report these websites to large search engines and have them shut down, but it will most likely pop up again. The thing to advocate is for people to be healthy and not settle on being the thinnest person in the room. Maybe the media is to blame; it could be a lot of things. But this issue needs to be fought head-on or it will never die.