An Epidemic of Body Hatred
The Average Woman vs. the Average Model
How The Media Makes Women Anorexic
The Fiji Effect: Television’s Impact On a Nation
Making a Mockery of Women’s Weight
Thinspired: The Community Cult of Starvation
Slowly return to a normal diet
The pro-ana community is a hotbed of potentially deadly habits and attitudes. yet its members’ uniform agreement that anorexia is admirable can make disordered eating seem normal. Its effects can be seen even in people who do not suffer from eating disorders. Women who were directed to read a pro-ana website were found to experience a decrease in their self-esteem and how attractive they believed themselves to be, while reporting that they felt heavier and more conscious of their weight. 14
Yet the impact of pro-ana sites extends even further than negative self-image and weight-consciousness. In one study, 84% of people who visited a pro-ana webpage had decreased their food intake by an average of 2,470 calories over the following week. However, only 56% of them were consciously aware that they had been eating less, and 24% continued to restrict their diet even three weeks after a single visit to these sites. 14
Much like images in the media, the encouragement of disordered eating affects people without them even knowing it. For women who are struggling with anorexia, the pro-ana community can put their health in ever-greater danger at a time when they’re most in need of help.
Word cloud generated from the “pro ana” Tumblr feed.
Fighting Back Against The Barbie Ideal
Anorexia nervosa is the single deadliest mental health condition. 5% to 20% of people diagnosed with anorexia will ultimately die from its ravaging effects on the body and mind: cardiac complications, organ failure, and even suicide. 1
These are the fruits of a media culture that prizes dangerously skinny, digitally altered bodies over those of real, healthy women.
From underweight and anatomically impossible Barbies, to jokes at the expense of normal-weight female characters on television, women are trained to hate their own bodies from birth until death – and pointed toward starvation diets as the only way to be loved and appreciated.
In a society where a healthy weight is insulted and derided at every turn, while risking your health for an unobtainable ideal is considered normal, can we really be surprised that so many women would rather die than risk being “fat?”
While relapse is common, and full recovery can take years, it is possible to overcome anorexia. With the proper treatment, people suffering from eating disorders can achieve a healthy weight and re-learn good dietary habits.
An awareness of the influences that distorted media images and marketing have on self-esteem can help prevent eating disorders before they even begin. Know what you’re watching, and know what it can do to your self-image. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends: you’d rather be alive than be Barbie.
Double Trouble: How Eating Disorders Can Lead to Drug and Alcohol Addictions
9% of the general population have a drug or alcohol addiction issue, a figure that’s worrisome enough on its own. However, a staggering 50% of those with eating disorders also abuse drugs and alcohol 15. either to aid with taking weight off or to cope with body dysmorphia issues or weight loss failure. There are a number of prescription and over-the-counter medications that are used and abused to suppress appetite or inhibit fat absorption, but many women also find themselves using cocaine, crystal meth or other illicit substances for their appetite suppressing properties. When recreational use turns to habit and then into a full-fledged addiction, this deadly dual-diagnosis often leads to a whole host of other physical and psychological problems, where malnourishment becomes only one of many in a vicious downward spiral.