Pro-Ana Sites: Three Things You Might Not Know
Pro-Ana (anorexia) and Pro-Mia (bulimia) websites, blogs, and social media accounts are scattered all over the internet. By definition, Pro-Ana sites glorify disordered eating patterns and encourage individuals struggling with eating to continue to engage in food restriction, dieting, and purging.
1. Pro-Ana content is dangerous
Eating disorders have the potential to be fatal. The exact numbers vary from study to study, but research tells us that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness (Arecelus, Mitchell, Wales, & Nielson, 2011). Content that encourages an increase in food restriction, fasting, and purging is dangerous as these behaviors carry serious health consequences. Anorexia nervosa has the potential to cause the following physical symptoms: slowed heart rate, reduction of bone density, muscle loss, dehydration, kidney failure, and fatigue (National Eating Disorder Association, 2017).
2. Pro-Ana content encourages unhealthy social interactions
Many pro-ana websites and blogs encourage interaction between individuals. Examples include sharing unhealthy diets, pictures of thin models to whom they aspire to emulate (called "thinspo"), and some even encourage sharing of pictures of themselves to show how much weight they have lost. Social media already encourages us to compare ourselves to our peers, but pro-ana content takes this to a higher level. Some people find solace in an online community full of individuals who can relate to their struggles with disordered eating and other mental illnesses. However, pro-ana content encourages you to continue the behavior rather than find support in recovery.
3. There are other options
Instead of searching for understanding and empathy through pro-ana content, I encourage you to seek out help through recovery groups or individual counseling. There are ways to connect with other people who are fighting similar fights without worsening your relationship with food.