Friday, August 19, 2005

Teaching Girls to Hate Themselves?

Not much time to write today..... packing up the pick-up truck to move to my new apartment! But, I came across an interesting article today about Anorexia (whose link was attached to another article I was reading on msn.com), and wanted to blog briefly about it. I have studied both Anorexia and Bulemia at length in my psychology classes, and have always been overwhelmed with the number of news press that I've found claiming that the prevalence of eating disorders in teenage women (and men) is due in large part to pressures from the media to be thin. However, what they were talking about in this article is a new sort of "eating disorder culture" that has emerged via the internet. Different sites have developped web rings depicting the lives of "Ana" (the anorexic) and "Mia" (the bulimic) who give young women advice on how to be a "good anorexic" (where the best anorexic is a dead anorexic )

"They call her “Ana.” She is a role model to some, a goddess to others — the subject of drawings, prayers and even a creed. She tells them what to eat and mocks them when they don’t lose weight. And yet, while she is a very real presence in the lives of many of her followers, she exists only in their minds. Ana is short for anorexia, and — to the alarm of experts — many who suffer from the potentially fatal eating disorder are part of an underground movement that promotes self-starvation and, in some cases, has an almost cult-like appeal."

Included on these sites also are message boards containing "advice from Ana" and the "pro-ana commandments":

The 10 Pro-Ana Commandments
1) If you aren't thin you aren't attractive.
2) Being thin is more important than being healthy.
3) You must buy clothes, cut your hair, take laxatives, starve yourself, do anything to make yourself look thinner.
4) Thou shall not eat without feeling guilty.
5) Thou shall not eat fattening food without punishing oneself afterwards.
6) Thou shall count calories and restrict intake accordingly.
7) What the scale says is the most important thing.
8) Losing weight is good/gaining weight is bad.
9) You can never be too thin.
10) Being thin and not eating are signs of true will power and success.


Apparently, girls can buy red bracelets to wear to symbolize their support of other anorexics (very Kabbalah like), and can purchase a journal written by "Ana" or "Mia" to provide them with "Thinspiration." AOL and Yahoo! both have shut down any "Pro-Ana" websites that they come across on their servers, but the Pro-Ana websites argue that this is in violation of free speech. Their claim: webrings of support and solidarity have been created via the internet to connect women and men suffering from Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and PTSD, and that there's no difference between these webrings and the Pro-Ana sites. However, there is one difference that is blatently obvious (at least to me): sites for Depression, Bipolar Disorder etc. offer support for recovery from said mental illnesses, while Pro-Ana sites are supporting the continuence of the disorder even to the point of viewing girls who die of starvation as those who have attained the ultimate victory! I was just curious to see what other people thought about the emergence of this new Internet community that is seemingly teaching girls to hate themselves.