Discovering Cult-Orexia

In doc|BOOK, society|BOOK on October 9, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Discovering Cult-OrexiaThe Truth About Online Anorexia outlines the issues surrounding anorexia and its “pro-ana” online community.  The ITV documentary bluntly raises the point that anorexia is rapidly becoming more than a disease.  It is almost becoming a religion – a cult by “commandments”, followed by those participating in websites online.

“Pro-ana” websites function as a place for sufferers to come together in order to “support” each other.  Participants are actually encouraged to post their own blogs, sharing knowledge of their thoughts and their very own extreme dieting tips.  And the reward? To become more like their own ‘thinspirations’.  In fact, Fearne Cotton, the presenter of the documentary, was shocked to find herself as an actual member of a ‘thinspiration’ list among many other famous women.

It seems that we have reached an age where we are so dependent on technology that we can even rely on it to practically promote diseases such as eating disorders.  All a person really has to do is type in Google “pro-anorexia” and the result is swarms of links which share exactly that view. People who were once sufferers almost become competitors in this web-based environment.  The “pro-ana” community is driven by comparison and jealousy that is portrayed as anything but harmful.  But, by criticism, we are only strengthening the “pro-ana” cause.  Online communities continue to strive on values that are deeply threaded into society, regardless of individual opinions.

But with the recent size zero debate and constant displays of ‘beautiful people’; is the uprising of the “pro-ana” revolution really that shocking? The anorexic figure shown online is no longer ugly, but an example of pure beauty.  It seems that as members of the youth generation in the 21st century, we are slowly becoming desensitized to images of thin men and women.  The more we look at them, the more we expect them to be thin. The more we look at them, the more we expect them to be beautiful.  People are not people, but spectacles.

After hearing “ordinary 10 year old children” in this documentary discussing “big thighs” and sharing their knowledge of 109 calorie Kit-Kats, it is clear that eating disorders are emerging in our youth more than ever.   With one girl in particular claiming that she had learnt how to diet through “magazines and websites”, it is obvious that the media is having some sort of impact on the core values of people today.  And as a result of sites such as those that welcome “pro-ana” communities, the concept of individuality is becoming fragile and becoming a ‘thinspiration’ is perceived as a key to happiness and success.

By Natasha Devan

If you suffer from an eating disorder or if you would like any more information, please make use of the following websites or telephone numbers: 0845 634 1414

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