The web is a great place to learn things. It can be a valuable tool for education purposes. Yet, it can be a dangerous place. We all know that it holds predators. But did you know that it holds tons of online sites that promote eating disorders.
Try this. Type in the word anorexia and see what comes up.
When typed into Firefox down at the bottom of page one comes some related terms. One term is pro anorexia. When this link is clicked, many links comes up referring to a term Pro-Ana. According to Wikipedia, Pro-Ana is a promotion of anorexia as a lifestyle choice rather than an eating disorder. There are many links associated to Pro-Ana, such as Pro-thinspo.com.
Yet, anorexia isn’t the only eating disorder that is being rationalized online. Bulimia is also being considered a lifestyle choice rather than an eating disorder. This is Pro-Mia.
Yes, these sites of course are teaching very bad habits. For instance, one person wrote in on the Pro-Ana site and asked the question if cocaine was a safe way to lose weight, since this person knew that a lot of celebrities used cocaine for this purpose. The answer came back using Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan as examples. It stated that these celebrities did lose weight by while using cocaine, yet it was illegal to use. Then it when on to describe a legal pill that could be used instead of cocaine. Yet, the site still published the question along with pictures of the two famous stars and a story of a New Zealand property developer who was suspected of dealing cocaine, using it, thus describing the amount of weight he lost.
Of course, it is mostly young people that are being hurt by these sites. They are the ones that are more apt to find these sites and to follow their advice. They are also the ones that are can easily be manipulated until a real eating disorder begins.
What can we do as individuals to stop these sites?
You could contact the hosts of these sites and ask them to take down these sites? Yet, for each site that is taken down another one will appear.
The best thing you can do as parent is to keep a close eye on your children. Notice the sites that they visit. Notice their eating habits. If you suspect a problem, talk to them. And most definitely talk to your children about eating disorders. Studies show that 81% of ten year girls all ready think that they are over weight. That in itself is an alarming reason to talk to our children.