Monday, August 11, 2008

Pro-Ana Websites

     I won't tell you not to look at a pro-ana/pro-mia website. I wouldn't tell you not to, because I've looked at them, and I am not a hypocrite. I wouldn't tell you not to, because the secretive nature of these websites is a part of their forbidden appeal. When looking at them in years past, I always felt like I was doing something wrong... rebelling, even. I wouldn't tell you not to because I don't think looking at these sites can "make" you an anorexic.
     But I can ask you to analyze what you get out of going to these websites, so you can make an informed decision. Upon perusing a few recently, the following words jumped off the page:

new plan
new plan
I hate living like this.
i REALLY want to be skinny for uni, itll make things so much easier

A girl asking if she is alone:

"this is gna sound weird
but is anyone else afraid of touching fatty foods
like today my friend tries to make me hold her yucky greasy chips and i couldnt
i was afraid of gainin weght throgh my skin

plz tell me im nt the nly one with this fear"

     It is comforting to find that there are others out there who have the same beliefs and fears as you. A strong support network is a basic human need. Talking about your worries just makes you feel better. It's a sense of release to have them out in the open and not pent up inside.
     But we are not defined by our eating habits. Your identity is not anorexic, bulimic or someone with a negative body image. These traits are only behaviors that you've chosen, a small part of who you are. So these communities don't provide all the support you need. 
     These sites suggest the answer to all problems is to simply eat less. It is their solution for stress, loneliness and general unhappiness. If that was the answer, why would the list of words above be so prominent on these sites? While the feeling of control may feel good for awhile, it's only temporary. The same negative feelings come back because the true root of your problems hasn't been addressed.
     If you've turned to these sites looking for support, you may assume that your parents and real-life friends will not understand. And it's true that they wouldn't encourage disordered eating, because they want you to be healthy. They wouldn't want you to continue what you're doing to your body. No one knows your body better than you do, so no one else knows what it needs. I understand this viewpoint.
     That's why I recommend speaking with those who've been in your situation and had your mindset. Support is not only found at pro-ana websites. There are numerous sites on the web for people who've recovered from EDs, or those who are still struggling and need an outlet. Something Fishy has a huge forum. If you're looking for blogs, Breaking the Mirror and the Disordered Times are great starting points with comprehensive blogrolls leading you to more sites. The people who participate in these sites are not going to lecture you or tell you what to do. People who have been through an ED know they wouldn't have wanted to hear that either. 
     You may not always agree with them, but did you always agree with everything said on pro-ana websites? Differing opinions are just a natural part of human interaction.
     Free therapy is often found on college campuses as well. I took advantage of this resource when recovering, and I promise, I never once felt like my psychologist was judging me in any way.
     I will leave you with a few questions to think about. Yes, we need constant contact and understanding from friends. But if you have to visit a website every day to find enough strength to continue doing something, how long can that really last? Can it continue for the rest of your life? 
     And when will you ever have the time to explore other areas of your life that need addressing? Maybe the areas of your life that you neglect when focusing on food. You won't find the answers to those problems on pro-ana websites.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the plug! :)

Mind Body Shop said...

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

Samantha Bowman said...

As person in recovery from an eating disorder, it is VERY ignorant of you to say that anorexia or bulimia is a "choice". Do some hard-core research before you "blog" about something you apparantly know so little about.

Erin said...

I am also in recovery, and I believe each person chooses to perform every action they make. We are predisposed to certain actions, and can be socially and environmentally conditioned to do so as well, but we as autonomous beings are not helpless.