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Pro-Ana Websites: A New Anorexic Cult

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I have been an online writer for over nine years. My articles focus on anorexia and other mental health issues.

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First, I apologise for the explicitness of the photo in this article, but I really want people to see the seriousness of the impact Pro-ana websites are having on young people. If you do not want to be disturbed, please close this page now.

What Are Pro-Ana Websites?

Pro Ana websites promote anorexia nervosa. They urge children/teenagers to celebrate anorexia as a lifestyle rather than as a disorder. They are growing fast. A lot of petitions for them to be banned or closed down are now being made. I definitely think that the government should intervene. The Royal College of Psychiatrists have urged action to tackle these Pro-ana websites' dangerous philosophy.

What Is Anorexia?

Anorexia is an eating disorder. It is also a psychological disorder. Its effects go beyond the effects of out-of-control dieting. The individual continues the endless cycle of dieting/losing weight until they are near starvation. They do this in order to feel a sense of control over the body.

What Is “Thinspiration?”

I searched for one of these websites and it was shocking. This website gave all the motivation you could ever need to look thin. They backed up their philosophy with hundreds of diets (food diets, different types of fasting, medicines to buy on-line to be thin, and lots of photo’s of thin people which they called “thinspiration”). I have not posted the link here, in case this article is read by teens who are searching for such websites.

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How Anorexia Kills

It affects both boys and girls. Anorexia kills people. In fact, this disease enjoys the highest fatality rate of any psychiatric disorder. Anorexia causes a weakened immune system, weakened muscles, digestive problems, neurological problems, etc. Because the disorder throws off the correct functioning of so many of the body's systems, it can kill you in myriad ways.

How to Spot Anorexia

Unlike many other psychological disorders, anorexia is fairly easy to spot. If you notice a friend or family member who appears dangerously skinny, you should not hesitate to speak up. Though it may seem rude, this disorder is truly dangerous and should not be overlooked.

Signs of anorexia include:

  • They have experienced rapid, drastic weight loss in a short period of time.
  • The person only likes to eat low fat food or food with low calories. They tend to have an obsession with calories and are always counting their calorie intake. They might even keep a food diary.
  • They play with their food or hide it. They avoid eating and sometimes excuse themselves from eating. They also tend to throw up after eating. If the person lives with family, they might hide their food under the pretense that they are going to eat in their bedroom.
  • They always criticize their body when standing in front of a mirror. They are never thin enough and refuse to believe they have problems with their body weight.
  • They may use diet pills or laxatives.
  • They partake in too much grueling or punishing exercise.
  • They read a lot about weight loss. They visit websites that promote unhealthy ways to lose weight.
  • They often feel cold, dizzy, and have headaches.
  • They have low self-esteem. It’s a pity that in the West, being slim is considered being beautiful and youngsters want to look like thin celebrities.

P.S. You have to be very observant, as they are good at hiding symptoms. One example is a person who throws up in the toilet after a meal. They could leave the tap running in the bathroom, so you don’t hear them while they stick their fingers in their throat and throw up. Remain vigilant and don't be afraid to have the conversation, if necessary. People struggling with anorexia need help and support.

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Why Do I Call It a Cult?

What really sent shivers through me was the prayer below (which is why I put cult in my title). Some of the skeletal girls, who belong to the Pro-ana cult, go so far as to bow before a mysterious leader known as "the goddess of emaciation." Please read and notice how youngsters are being lured into this group.

This letter seems like a death prayer to me:

Dear Ana,

I offer you my soul, my heart and my bodily functions. I give you all my earthly possessions.

I seek your wisdom, your faith and your featherweight. I pledge to obtain the ability to float, to lower my weight to the single digits, I pledge to stare into space, to fear food, and to see obese images in the mirror. I will worship you and pledge to be a faithful servant until death does us part.

If I cheat on you and procreate with Ronald McDonald, Dave Thomas, the colonel or that cute little dog. I will kneel over my toilet and thrust my fingers deep in my throat and pray for your forgiveness.

Please, Ana, don't give up on me. I'm so weak, I know, but only you with your strength inside me will I become a woman worthy of love and respect. I'm begging for you not to give up, I'm pleading with my shallow breaths and my pale skin. I bleed for you, suffer leg pains, headaches and fainting spells.

Today, I renew our friendship and resolve to be faithful to you year long, lifelong. I begin each year with a 3 day fast in honor of you. If you give me the strength to fade away I will love you and worship you forever.

Love Always, Amanda. (insert your own name in place of mine)

Sure sounds like a cult, doesn't it? Don't let your friends or family get lured into this dangerous group. We should not recommend, promote, or support this kind of self-destructive behavior.

Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.