Pro Ana describes websites that offer pro anorexia tips, or information about pro eating disorders. They encourage unhealthy weight loss, and probably dont truly understand the dangers of eating disorders. Why do young people participate in these kinds of websites?
Such people are usually at the helm of pro ana web sites, where a large percentage of their audience are female teens.
All that's required is an internet connection and a few clicks of the mouse.
With easy access to hundreds of these sites on the web, they're awfully tempting to those who are battling body image issues.
For people who are honestly trying to recover, they're some of the worst anorexia triggers around.
Those who support pro eating disorders "tips and tricks" generally think that they're being helpful and offering encouragement. In reality, what they're actually doing is feeding into eating disorders (no pun intended), and showing impressionable young people how to be anorexic.
I used to visit pro ana web sites, and when I did, I was amazed that these people have actually created their own lesson plans on eating disorders, which include the abc diet, the 2468 diet as well as tips on how to purge after meals.
Someone always has a trick hidden up their sleeve somewhere.
Still, just about everyone who participates in theses sites comes across as very sad, lonely and miserable.
After a while, I decided for myself that it wasn't the kind of "supportive" environment that I was looking for.
I always felt a sense of competition - who has the best pro anorexia tips? Who was able to survive their hunger and eat nothing (or very little) that day?
Those who succeeded would serve as 'thinspiration' for the rest of the community. They received praise and even more encouragement to keep doing what they're doing.
In recent years there has been talk of government involvement - trying to have these sites shut down. It's hard to say what the future holds, but in the meantime we might be able to learn a great deal from them.
Researchers can study the content and the responses of the sites' visitors. This helps them to learn more about what drives people to eating disorders and what keeps them so entrenched in their illness.
It's entirely possibly that, in the long run, these pro ana web sites might genuinely help someone after all.
What other factors influence teen anorexia?
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