Have you heard of pro-ana websites? Have you visited them? Do you know people who have? My colleagues and I are very concerned about their impact on weight loss communities, and on young women. What have you heard? Or do you have personal experiences with them? What's your impression?
After reading your post I visited a couple of these sites. I think the most dangerous thing about them is that some of the things they are saying make sense. You know to exercise and eat sensibly. Everyone hears those things almost every day. That's were the danger lies in these sites. They suck you in with information that is reasonable.
I have never been on these websites but I have heard about them and do not approve. They only encourage unsafe weight loss and people, as Mary Ann P. said, get sucked in by bad advice. I hope that more people become informed of the dangers of sites such as those and less people fall prey to them.
I am personally mortified by such websites. I do have a close friend who has disorded eating and habits such as exercising the same of amount of calories she eats per day to cancel out, not taking into account the need for calories for metabolism and other processes. She spends quite a bit of time on sites like that. Also, there are 'blogs", or diary entries of others with eating disorders on YouTube and she is actively conversing with them on their pages. In my experience with her, she has found a community of others that permit, and thus promote, dangerous behaviors. The pro-anna sites are extremely dangerous.
Like most, I have heard about these types of websites, but have never visited one. It's a disturbing thought, but the people visiting and using these forums are looking for a since of belonging... a community. Like the members here on Wellsphere, we are looking for a positive community to support us in living a healthy lifestyle. People visiting the pro-anorexic websites are looking for support and like-minded individuals that understand what they are feeling. I feel helpless on this issue, but hope all the best to those suffering from the illness.
I have been to some of these sites. When I was at the peak of my anorexia I did a lot of things that I guess you would consider unhealthy. Some friends and I on one site decided to help each other get down to a BMI of 11. I got pretty close to it but I also almost died a couple of times. Most of them I will agree are dnagerous and harmful but there are also a few sites that I have seen where they allow people in all stages of anorexia, even recovery. I think that site can be helpful. I guess that I am conflicted about it. I am trying so hard to recover but it is so difficult when it has been a part of your life for so long that it defines you.
You're right- a lot of the slogans and such that are on pro-ana sites are adapted from the general weight loss community.
As someone who is in recovery from AN, I can understand the appeal of these sites from a different level: they make the illness feel less freakish. And that is one of their biggest dangers, having a whole community of people who think an eating disorder is a lifestyle.
Don't go visit one if you haven't already. It's like visiting a crack den- you don't need to see one yourself to try and understand an addiction, and you don't need to see a pro-ana site to understand anorexia.
I'm with Carrie in that pro-ana sites helped me feel less alone when I was in the throes of my eating disorder. Since no one in my life understood my eating disorder, I went online and found tons of places where people with eating disorders got together and discussed them. The pro-ana sites were among them, but I got bored with them because I already knew the "tipz and tricks" that many of these sites offer. I wanted support, and I eventually found that, too, on message boards. Many eating disorders forums get a bad rap because they are grouped with the pro-ana movement, but most of them are a safe haven for people needing to feel accepted and understood. You "come as you are," no matter what state of recovery (or not) you're in. Are message boards a proper substitute for therapy? Of course not. Do they help? Yes, I think so.
Whoops, sorry for the double post but I can't edit the original. I meant to add that I relate to Carrie's point pro-ana sites being alluring but dangerous *because* they help one feel less alone. That was the allure that brought me to them in the first place.