Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Anorexia and Bulimia (Part One)

Re: The BBC Online Magazine's recent article on pro-ana, pro-mia and 'thinspiration' websites, I thought I'd share some thoughts.

I ran into 'Thinspiration' maybe a year back now, and was immediately made sick at the sight of it. From an aesthetic point of view more than anything. Other than this visceral reaction, I started to think about with less passion and more... logic, I suppose. Combined with my ever useful Psychology A-Level.

One of the biggest myths about Eating Disorders (EDs) is that they're linked to the Size Zero trend within society, as well as tiny models in general, i.e. it's a model problem. This can be seen as something of a fallacy from certain points of view, as EDs have increased over the last 30-40 years, rather than the last 10 or 20 where modelling and the like have been in the spotlight. It's a lie that EDs are a female only problem, as they effect both genders. Another fallacy is that EDs are a mainly Western phenomenon, but EDs effect men and women from different cultures throughout the world.

However, it certainly has a lot to do with your point of view. UK statistics tell us a rather definite view. The MAJORITY of sufferers are females, from age 14-25. As previously mentioned, statistic are anything but complete. Not all cases are reported to the NHS, and so these figures are something of a messy area.

The main thrust of the BBC's article rests on the dangers (yawn) of the internet, but the article - and the commenters at the bottom of the page - points out that the internet hasn't really encouraged pro-ana attitudes, but just given them a different outlet.

Like terrorism and extreme facsist views, I tend believe that monitoring and not censoring pro-ana groups within Facebook etc. is the way to go. I'm of this opinion for two reasons, really. One is that I don't really care about the type of girl who subscribe to this 'thinspiration' rubbish. The second reason is that girls hanging around this kind of website leave clues for their - hopefully - lovely friends to catch them out and give or get them some help or support.

As for the causes... well, it's a relatively unknown area. First off, there are so many cases which don't get reported because of shame or some other reason, so from a certain point of view there's insufficient data to put a theory together.