Editor of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani has launched a campaign to put an end to Pro-Ana websites, she explains that fashion is always blamed for young girls developing eating disorders such as Anorexia so it is important for it to be behind the proposed ban on the sites.
Last year for a uni project I research this matter myself and spoke to several girls about their use of pro-eating disorder sites, here is an extract:
Websites that promote eating disorders as a lifestyle have always been around but as social networking sites grow as do these pro-eating disorder websites.
Many users of these sites believe there are two types of pro-ED websites. One which actively encourages people to develop and continue eating disorders. These are the type that should be banned as there is no place for them. However many pro-ED websites are places to go for help when you aren’t at a place where recovery is possible and by banning them we would be taking away that support. Eating Disorder Awareness Company B-EAT believe the main reason people access these sites is to gain support or acceptance from others going through the same issues. Previous users of these sites often believe that they should be monitored rather than closed down altogether.
In a survey last year of 600 young people suffering with some form of eating disorder, 92% said they felt as if they could not talk to anyone about it. So it’s really no wonder these sites are popular, even when not fully involved with the site people can still feel like they belong. If this is the place people suffering with eating disorders can really seek acceptance banning them could cause more harm than good, these sites can often help people to recover with support from other users
The environment which surrounds us is constantly influencing our attitudes and behaviours and with the growing availability of such websites the influence that they are able to exert sets a dangerous trap which many insecure girls could fall. For this reason these websites need to be monitored and controlled. An outright ban could be potentially more damaging due to the emotional support that can be found within these communities. Those who go searching for emotional support on these websites may be better off considering recovery lead websites so as not to fall victim to the negative messages found within a vast majority of pro-eating disorder websites.
(Names of interviewees were removed for their privacy)