Are Eating Disorders Encouraged By Pro Ana Websites?

The internet can be a place where many people leave the real world. Most parents would assume that identity theft and online predators are the only threat but they would be wrong. The web is now playing host to a new one; websites that promote

eating disorders

known as pro-ana.

What is a pro-ana Web site?


Simply put, pro-anorexic (pro-ana) websites encourage its online community to accept anorexia as a lifestyle. For young girls that are vulnerable to types of eating disorders, this is a real lure. These sites encourage return visitors with new updates & information, chat rooms and forums. Each part of an eating disorder site encourages the pro-ana manifesto: I believe in weight scales as an indicator of my daily success.

So why do some teens find solace in an Eating Disorder website?

Many therapists have come up with studies to try to explain this but generally speaking, the primary reason is the relationship a teen has with their parents. The more parents shame their kids, the more likely they will retreat to these sites. It becomes a sanctuary for them.

The media also shoulders some of the blame because it defines how females and males observe their bodies. Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan and other media sources send messages glorifying thinness. As evidence of this, Pro-ana Web site creators proudly show images of Kate Moss and other slim celebrities, lifting dangerously thin actresses up as models of perfection. Pro ana websites even defend their message under the guise of feminism.


Teen Girls Need a Sense of Community


One of the key factors that attracts teen girls is the sense of community. Every girl listens to and validates one anothers’ feelings. It’s empowering.  Yet what these impressionable girls fail to recognize is that this type of encouragement does more harm than good.

And in cyberspace, where teenagers sometimes need medical treatment more than a sympathetic shoulder to cry on, too many are literally wasting away.

The anatomy of  pro-ana websites:

One of the dangers of pro ana websites are the tools the site owners use to lure in unsuspecting teen girls:

-Forums, blogs and chat rooms.

Pro-ana visitors trade ideas on how to purge “safely” and how to hide eating disorders from family and friends.

-Diaries, music, poetry and photography.

Diaries chronicle everything from feelings of loneliness to hopelessness and despair, but many visitors find solace through creativity. Used as triggers, photos of emaciated women discourage eating.

-Dieting  guidelines

Many pro-anas post messages about how to accomplish a 100-calorie day.  One suggested “meal” was a stock cube and hot water.  Another site creator advised eating until near unconsciousness.

-Secret symbols.

A mere $25 will buy a pro-ana bracelet—a sign of solidarity and choice. Red stands for anorexia, purple represents bulimia, and black and blue symbolize self-mutilation.

More dangerous than bracelets or dieting suggestions is the underlining message:  Embrace your eating disorder.  Yet pro-ana/mia teens hop on a slippery slope to serious medical or psychological problems.

The people who run these sites want others to join them because they believe in their hearts that there is no recovery or cure. They create an endless cycle of hopelessness and despair. And there is a point where the eating disorder voice takes over, making it difficult to distinguish from the wise, sensible voice that encourages recovery and healthy behaviors.


Internet Safety:  For Best Protection Catch it Early!

One of the best ways to spot the problem is to stop it from happening right from the start. With the proper K9 Web Protection software, you can monitor your child’s internet use. If you want to sto

For More Info on Internet Safety and Kids Online visit HealthyKids Helpful Links

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