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Glamorizing Thinness through Pro-Anorexia Websites

Posted Apr 09 2009 7:14pm

Last week, the French parliament’s lower house adopted a bill that would make it illegal to publicly glamorize or encourage extreme thinness. In particular, the bill cracks down on “pro-ana”—or pro-anorexia—websites, where people with eating disorders can go for advice on how to lose weight, for photos of waif-like celebrities that offer “Thinspiration,” and for general support.

Pro-ED (eating disorder) websites have raised controversy for as long as they've existed--in fact, when public, most are taken down within days of appearing on the web. And although some call these sites sanctuaries for people with common experiences, others see them as "encouraging prolonged nutritional deprivation that would...[expose] them to risk of death or directly compromise health," which would make them illegal under this bill.

See research about pro-anorexia websites:

  • Bardone-Cone et al (2007). "What does viewing a pro-anorexia website do? An experimental examination of website exposure and moderating effects."
  • Bardone-Cone et al (2006). "Investigating the impact of pro-anorexia websites: a pilot study."
  • Dias (2003). "The ANA sanctuary: Women's pro-anorexia narratives in cyberspace."
  • Fox et al (2005). "Pro-anorexia, weight-loss drugs and the Internet: An 'anti-recovery' explanatory model of anorexia."
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