The Pro-Ana Movement
von Shannon Palmer

Curious as I am, I read up on many different afflictions from day to day, through the wonderful power of the internet. Schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, psychotic tendencies. Maybe illness fascinates me. I have an insatiable appetite for things that should be disgusting, yet you cannot turn away from. This being said, I recently began researching anorexia, after remembering a woman I saw on tv afflicted with the illness. Melissa Dehart. She looked worse than a Nazi camp victim. I had to look it up.

It was in my internet travels that I came across my first "pro anorexic" site. Pro ana, they called it. Pro mia for those that were prone to sticking their finger down their throat. Bulimia. Ana and mia were friends that kept you from getting fat. They controlled you. They loved you. And thus I came upon the pro ana/mia movement. Way disturbing but somehow incredible all the same. These girls weren't oppressed by their illness; they were celebrating it as a lifestyle. They were going to stay this way, forever. Others like them they wanted to keep close, these other strange ana mias.

Every site has a “tips and tricks” section. Use a toothbrush to purge when your finger stops working. Roll up in a ball and the hunger pains will go away. Want some thinspiration? You are taken to a page where there are a hundred Melissa Deharts, every ana striving to be just like them. Thin dying women, every bone in their body poking through the skin, their body aching for something to eat.

There were a lot, maybe hundreds of links to pro ana sites; I only came to see 4 or 5. 90% of the links were dead. Every one of the large hosts such as Angelfire and Yahoo delete them the second they go up. Even message boards where there is only discussion among anas are deleted. I was interviewing girls on a message board on voy.com. They were a close knit group giving each other encouragement. The board had been up for over a year. Several times I had seen posts from random people that came across the forum. "I need to lose some weight. How do I become anorexic?" was as a common question. And always the same answer: "Anorexia is not a diet", one of the girls would post. "You don't want to go through this hell. Try fitday.com"

Excellent advice. A couple of days later I went back. Or tried... "This forum does not exist on voy.com" the screen informed me, after punching in the address. I stared at it for a while, feeling betrayed. They had deleted it. Just like that. A little disheartening, even for me. And wrong! Hosts do not even care anymore. If its about anorexia and its not recovery, delete it before an angry mom points the finger. What people don't understand is that although it is commonly referred to as Pro, people are not promoting it to anybody. These anorexics are the ones that know nothing will ever change the way they are, and they are there to support each other and make it easier on themselves.

Unfortunately "anti anas" (as they are called) scream that it is disgusting; and that children will come across the pro ana sites and decide to develop an eating disorder. Stupid , for the simple fact that eating disorders are not something you can develop on purpose no matter how hard you try. These people are simply offended. But when did we start restricting the rights of people for offensive material? Yahoo deletes every single pro ana site ever made because they are so scared of the backlash, but they are happy to keep up preteen incest sites and pay-to-see-rape sites? What’s really contributing to the bigger problem here?

Its a lot more realistic that a child would develop a sexual perversion than an eating disorder from surfing the web.

Yahoo/geocities is a sell out and a hypocrite. If a war starts, I'm on the side of the skinnies.