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banning pro-ana

Posted Apr 20 2012 6:20am
Okay, so now let me upset friends and foes alike.

I am not at all interested in whether Pinterest, Tumblr, or Instagram, or anyone else bans "Thinspo" and pro-ana materials.

1.   You can't clean the internet
2.   Parents are in charge of what their children access
3.   This stuff is symptom, not cause

I understand the worry over it, but the objections -- and then the objection to the objections -- are mired in just plain wrong-headedness about EDs.

The amount of horror and energy that people put into banning this stuff is better spent elsewhere, in my opinion. All this media attention is only serving to bring more young people to that material. Plus, the prurient media attention is yet another excuse to show thin people - the media loves that - and is only meant to shock, not educate.

The ANGER generated toward these sad people and their sad sites feels really inappropriate to me. They're ill.

What bothers me most is the belief out there that pictures and disordered ideas on the Internet will spread or cause eating disorders. Images don't cause, inspire, promote, permit, or spread mental illness. Do sites about UFOs cause schizophrenic delusions or soap commercials cause germ phobia? The people creating and consuming pro-ana and pro-mia stuff are often quite ill, and that is sad, but they're not causing other people to be ill - they're providing a scratch to the itch that ill people are feeling.

"Thinspiration" and pro-ana stuff is symptom, not cause. I don't look at it because it is upsetting to see the pain and distortions of mental illness and feel helpless to help the sufferer.

Look at it this way: if someone is telling us that they are in pain, or see little green men in the bathtub, or have terror of their own body size, does it help to say "Stop feeling that!" "Stop telling me that!" "Those are unacceptable thoughts!"

No, we don't. We feel sympathy and, if possible, we try to help. When we can't - because the people are anonymous and unreachable - we respectfully avert our eyes.

P.S. Why am I writing about it here? Because I'm getting more and more media queries and forwarded messages from friends and family because of media on it.
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