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Submitted by Peter on Thu, 04/05/2012 - 08:15
What about ‘Pro-ana’?
You don’t have to dig too deeply into the internet to find hundreds of blogs and images promoting eating disorders. If you were to Google the word you would be shocked at the amount of personal blogs and photo-sharing sites that come back in your search. Is this for real? Is it some kind of weird pornography?
As it reads on Wikipedia, “pro-ana refers to the promotion of the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. It is often referred to simply as ‘ana’.”
Even mentioning this online community gives me the creeps. Pro-ana and thinspiration blogs and online forums are places where women with eating disorders come together and encourage each other with pictures of emaciated women and tips on how to most effectively starve oneself.
With the introduction and popularity of photo sharing sites such as Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest, members of the pro-ana community have been able to spread their messages and share their thinspiration photos and mantras.
Pinterest, which was introduced in March 2010, is a photo sharing site where users can pin photos of anything from cupcake recipes to their favourite rockstars. But it is also an ideal place for the pro-ana community to create thinspiration boards featuring disturbing images of too-thin women and tips on how to lose large amounts of weight quickly. It allows people who are suffering to feel like they aren’t alone, but in a very unhealthy way. Rather than recovery, they’re able to feed their illness with motivation to stay sick.
It took some time, but finally Pinterest joined with other photo sharing sites such as Tumblr and changed their user policy. Under Pinterest’s updated policy, users must agree to not post content that “creates a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to yourself, to any other person, or to any animal.”
Tumblr recently implemented a similar change in its terms, banning users from posting content “that actively promotes or glorifies self-harm.” Tumblr states that this includes “content that urges or encourages readers to cut or injure themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders, or commit suicide, rather than, e.g., seeking counseling or treatment, or joining together in supportive conversation with those suffering or recovering from depression or other conditions.” Tumblr even goes so far as to offer access to help when a user searches for a pro-ana term.
Unfortunately to eliminate all of the thinspiration and pro-ana sites, blogs and imagery from the internet, would be an uphill and never-ending battle. But we can do our part by reporting images and posts that we feel are harmful to the author or others. If you are active on Pinterest, you may have already seen the Pin reading “Pinterest not Thinterest”, re-pining that will help send the message that you don’t agree with pro-ana and thinspiration photo sharing.
I don’t think this is anti free speech. Rather, it’s pro physical and pro mental health. Given that a large percentage of internet users are youth, what kinds of messages are these sites sending to girls and young women?
What do you think? If you’ve seen disturbing content on the internet, have you done anything about it?
You can read Tumblr and Pinterests new policies