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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

August-14-07

On Social Networking Sites, Pro-Anorexia Seems Validated

While the prevalence of pro-eating disorder websites is nothing new, their existence has become more accepted, more respected, and easier to access via popular social networking sites. Though online forums, like Facebook.com, MySpace.com, and LiveJounal.com, have rules against displaying harmful material, pro-anorexia groups and pages are readily available on their sites.

Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, yet pro-anorexia (pro-ana) and pro-bulimia (pro-mia) groups exchange tips on how to override hunger in pursuit of a state of emaciation. The groups also post "thinspiration" pictures of underweight women whose body types they seek to emulate, and "war stories" on how sick they have been.

Prior to the rise of sites like Facebook and MySpace, these forums were "relatively anonymous," small in size and difficult to locate, according to the BBC. But now, the easy-to-access MySpace website hosts groups like "Pro Ana Nation," and Facebook includes groups such as "Get thin or die trying."

MySpace's response is that it can be "very tricky" to determine which groups exist to provide support for those suffering from eating disorders and which exist to promote anorexia and bulimia. "Rather than censor these groups, we are working to create partnerships with organizations that provide resources and advice to people suffering from such problems, and we will target those groups with messages of support," a MySpace spokesperson told the BBC.

Media Resources: BBC 8/8/07; Facebook; MySpace


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