Understanding the Pro-Ana Movement- Part 2

Following on from the previous post on this topic, this post aims to deliver a better understanding on what’s behind “pro Ana”. Once again, this may be triggering for those who have recently been affected by an ED.

“It is because of the media”

We know that it is easy to come across some really toxic diet culture, which can obviously lead to people developing unnecessary unhealthy perceptions about food and their bodies. But it’s unlikely the media alone would be the primary cause toward someone developing an ED. Yet it could possibly provoke the development of an ED to someone who is already at risk. Yet the general causes of EDs can include genetic factors, other mental health problems or difficult experiences. Meanwhile an ED certainly isn’t something that someone can just “snap out of” therefore the media cannot be entirely to blame…

The media can however look like a strong cause of EDs on the surface, due to how the blogs are often made up. Though in reality people who post “pro ana” content aren’t doing so due to what they see on the media, but instead it is as a representation of their internal thoughts. This is due to the space those sites provided for people to express their ED related thoughts, where others are actually going to understand. And the extent to which the content is explicitly associated with EDs would simply be forbidden on the mainstream media for obvious reasons.

“But they are Just Triggering Others”

Ok, so pro ana content is definitely somewhat triggering. But people on there don’t actually want to encourage the development of EDs. Rather most content creators actively tried to discourage those in recovery, or those unfamiliar with “pro ana” from visiting, while they were very supportive of anyone choosing to begin recovery. So if the users didn’t intend to encourage EDs, how come they released content explicitly promoting unhealthy bodies, and behaviors? Well the websites were more as a platform where people could be brutally honest, without the fear of judgement. Where they were connected to many going through similar struggles, feeling like a support system where other issues as well as food were also discussed.

Another issue was that EDs weren’t expressed as illnesses, not even diets but “lifestyles”… We know that an ED cannot be a lifestyle, but there’s a sad reason as to why they were expressed in this way…

So Why?

As an illness it can be extremely consuming, preventing people from partaking in activities most would take for granted. Therefore it can be referred to as a “lifestyle” to cover up the true pain which they cause. This is exasperated when recovering is either impossible or seems insufficient for the person. This way people find they have no choice but to stick to an ED, and seeing it as a lifestyle may seem like the only way they can cope…

But why is it Glamourised so much?

We have seen “Pro Ana” take place in many forms, from the almost “philosophical” writings, to the jokey videos produced on TikTok… This is all part of the glamorization of mental illness (I have made a post on this before!) which arises from how they are stigmatized and due to how rubbish living with it is.

This can of course be seen with probably all mental illnesses, although I feel with EDs it can be rather more triggering, which is why it can be seen as so much of a problem.

So What is the Real Problem

So after my rant, lets see what the root of the problem may be… Often I think it boils down to insufficient access to services, making the choice of recovering far more difficult for many. On top of a general lack of understanding.

Finally I am aware that all experiences with EDs are unique, but I hope I have covered the general issues with this.

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8 thoughts on “Understanding the Pro-Ana Movement- Part 2

  1. I was anorexic when I was 13 & 14 and followed the pro-Ana movement online. Our internet at the time was very slow and yet this movement was a thing back then. I’m 29 years old now!

    I was shocked that my mom who is the least tech savvy person ever (and still is), knew what the pro-Ana movement was. I’m not sure where she learned about it but she seemed very aware of what I was doing. I was never a member on those forums but I can only imagine that the forums give girls a sense of security and belonging. Having a community of people who understand what they are dealing with is comforting, especially for anorexic girls who feel very isolated and alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it was definitely quite big back in the early 2000s, as the internet started to develop. I think it certainly gives people a sense of community and understanding, and I guess even following it would do so.
      I suppose it is something which is spoken about quite a bit, and sometimes (but not always) parents are quite good at sniffing out what is going on at that sort of age.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou though it doesn’t cover everything. I would say to make sure to listen to how they feel, and not to be judgmental but at the same time remind them that they are worthy or recovering, that you want to and to remind them of the reasons to recover. Also no diet talk!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for bringing awareness to this! When my eating disorder was at its worst, I became very immersed in the pro-Ana movement. It wasn’t until I was a couple of years into recovery that I realized how very toxic and harmful it is.

    I do think it comes down to a lack of awareness and guidance; I stumbled upon my first pro-Ana site when I was researching anorexia for a health project in 7th grade, when my ED was just staring. I’m glad there’s more awareness about pro-Ana and thinspiration now, though I wish there was a way to take down those sites that continue to brainwash and trigger so many people. Makes me mad when I think about!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it is a hard one because you can’t really blame those who are producing the content. Yet it can definitely be a toxic environment. I think most of them have now been taken down, but the issue now is probably more on TikTok, where people certainly wouldn’t say they’re “pro ana”, but they are happy to show pictures of themselves at their lowest weight 🙃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It certainly is tricky, isn’t it? And yes, social media (TikTok and Instagram in particular) are NOT helping the issue at hand whatsoever 😒

        Liked by 1 person

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