Pro-ana websites
As long as it is Eating Disorders Awareness Week (which I did not know until reading it here) I would like to ask everyone's opinion on a very difficult issue.

Since most of you are familiar with what's out there on the web you may have run across websites that promote anorexia/bulimia as a "lifestyle" rather than as an illness. When I learned about this I went looking for some of these sites. What I found was both edifying and extremely disturbing. Primarily these are sites where people write in to do several things - most of them try to warn others away from the lifestyle, some are more like support groups, and quite a few spend time giving each other tips on how to make bulimia easier, protect the tooth enamel, as well as having contests to see who can lose weight the fastest. They also post pictures of their favorite models looking as deadly skinny as I've ever seen anyone outside of a famine.

There is also a movement to suppress these sites, and it has been at least partly successful - they are a lot harder to find now.

I think there are valid points on both sides of the issue. Aside from the censorship problem, I personally gained some professional insight into anorexia/bulimia from reading what these girls were writing. It is a hallmark of the illness to hide what is really going on inside, so we still know very little about it and it's very difficult to help someone who has it. And the sites have very prominent warnings posted.

On the flip side it certainly seems like a lot of pro-ana/pro-mia sites allow people to egg each other on, encourage others to adopt the "lifestyle" in order to lose weight. Old-timers teaching newcomers how to make it easier does not seem supportive at all but encourages them in an illness that is frequently fatal. At the same time they like to claim it is not an illness and it is their right to live the way they want.

There is of course more to the issue than this, but I noticed on the other thread that a lot of people here have suffered from anorexia/bulimia and I wondered if you thought the websites were primarily harmful or helpful and supportive.

- gilly
well, i for one do not believe that those websites are helpful or supportive at all. especially if they're encouraging others to do something that is considered a serious illness. i think it is awful what happens to people who suffer anorexia or bulimia when they become old. their bones become so brittle, the thought makes me wince at what they have to go through.

i am sure that it is mostly young girls that suffer this illness and should seek help. it is a good thing most of those sites are closed down because people can become seriously ill or die from starving themselves to death, just to look like a model? they should be happy that they are unique individuals, and there is noone else exactly like them in this world. they are special! no need to harm yourself to look like someone else.
Well there is some controversy as to whether or not anyone can make themselves anorexic or bulimic because someone encouraged them to if they were not going to already. I for example feel that I need to lose a few pounds but when I look at these sites I have no desire to do what they are doing to themselves. They actually make it look revolting.

It's true that the consequences of these illnesses are devastating.

As someone who has been trying to treat eating disorders however, I find the sites helpful. Most of these kids won't tell me what is in their heads.

MYCode Guide

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