Friday, February 19, 2010
The Ana Phenomenon
This morning, I was reaching into the closet for the hairdryer when I saw the scale on the floor. The little white square... I haven't weighed myself in over a year; I remember when we had to since the age of five in physical education class. I've gained a little weight since high school, but no Freshman 15 yet(another reason to love community college - home cooked food!) I've never had a weight problem, but I was completely floored when I learned that people could be self-procliamed as "ana." Being "ana" or even "pro-ana" (pro-anoxeric) is now a community and state of being, where fellow victims of anoxeria can support eachother...in staying skinny.
Wait, these young people (mostly girls) are supporting eachother to STAY anoxeric? That seems to be the case, through web communities and online forums. These groups provide advice and wisdom to each other, and they even have gone as far as to create a list of Commandments for being an "ana." Some of their commandments include: "If thou aren't thin, thou aren't attractive," "Being thin is more important than being healthy" and "Being thin and not eating are signs of true willpower and success."
Now, if you read this like I did, it may be a difficult concept to grasp. People really think this way? People really put this on the Internet for others to take as factual information and strive towards finding it? It's a terrifying concept. These pictures and information come off as completely haunting.
Being "in the disorder" has become this new, exciting thing to do for this select type of group. For pro-anas, it provides them with a challenge, and something to maintain: being as skinny as possible. It is obvious that eating disorders are incredibly unhealthy, but what happens when they begin warping the thoughts of mostly teenage girls?
We all know how young women already criticize themselves harshly. When will we start working to take down and banish these groups from the Internet so that these thoughts can't continue to reach such a large audience? What can we do to make sure this epidemic doesn't get any more out of hand? Is there anything we can do?
For the time being, these communities will unfortunately continue to exist, grow, and influence countless of anoxerics. Although the sites tend to discourage anyone under 18 from viewing content, it can still be accessed by anyone. Sites such as these that have discussion boards lead conversations that include "What do you guys do about starvation headaches?" To us it may seem appalling that these things can be, and are taken seriously, but these are real people that need real help, not help from fellow "anas."