Pro-Anorexia Web Sites Prey on Insecurities
Many girls with eating disorders turn to pro-anorexia web sites, where they find peer support but usually little help in treatment and recovery.
By Jeanie Lerche Davis
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario
My Princess Ana, Fragile Innocence: The cutesy names disguise the dark agenda of pro-anorexia web sites and message boards.
On these sites, "Ana" means anorexia and "Mia" is bulimia. For many, "Ana" is a friend or enemy they all have in common.
Pro-anorexia web sites are controversial -- providing "how-to" sections on purging, tips and tricks on food avoidance, pro-ana chat rooms, distractions from hunger, "thinspiration" pictures of emaciated women and girls, and "LEAVE" messages for anyone who is anti-ana.
"There's no question that these sites have the potential to be quite harmful ... harmful not only to people with eating disorders, but to other vulnerable young women," says Doug Bunnell, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Wilton, Conn., with the National Eating Disorders Association.
With young girls, peer pressure is important -- and the web sites prey on that need, says Nancy Graham, LCSW, director of clinical outreach with Renfrew Center, an eating disorder treatment facility.