The Dangers of Thinspo and Pro-Ana Websites
There’s a blog for everything these days… including pro-ana blogs.
Pro-ana stands for pro anorexia, and blogs in this niche provide “thinspiration” that encourages and supports eating disorders. Today we’ll discuss why thinspiration is dangerous and how you can help your child if you suspect they’re spending time in these communities.
Understanding the consequences of eating disorders
It can’t be sugar coated — eating disorders, like anorexia, are deadly. How deadly? In general, eating disorders present the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. Even without mortality the physical consequences are noteworthy. A cycle of starvation and/or purging can lead to medical issues like bone disease, cardiac problems, gastrointestinal distress, and infertility.
It might start as a desire for healthy weight loss, but that weight loss can spiral out of control for some people, especially young girls, leading to an obsession with being ever-thinner. Once a person with an eating disorder finds these pro-ana blogs and websites they suddenly feel understood, hopeful, and their struggles with body image become normalized by their new community. That’s because these websites promote the idea that anorexia and bulimia are lifestyle choices, rather than mental health conditions that need treatment.
The dangers of “thinspo”
“Thinspiration” is often shortened to “thinspo,” and the popularity of the term is extremely unsettling. The blogs that glorify eating disorders are appealing for many reasons, and they’re easier than ever to access. When a person already has a negative body image and low self esteem, it’s not surprising that the “thinspo” community offers a feeling of refuge.
According to one treatment center, the young people who flock to these communities tend to have certain things in common:
- Easy access to a computer.
- They spend a lot of time online.
- They are “flirting” with anorexic eating habits, or may even already have symptoms of the disorder.
- Low self-esteem, often with few “real life” connections to peers and their community.
- Former social activities may have also been recently given up.
Talking to your children about eating disorders
If you think your child might be exploring pro-ana blogs and other websites that glorify an unhealthy body image, there are things that you can do to help. You might be leary of invading your child’s online privacy, but if you’re truly concerned it’s important to take action.
Start with getting to know some pro-ana websites via a Google search. You might also want to review a few Instagram accounts, which is another popular spot where these communities form. Then, ask your child if they’ve heard of terms like “pro-ana” and “thinspo,” paying attention to how they respond.
Getting help when you think your child has an eating disorder
It’s important to remember that you might not be able to help your child on your own. Eating disorders are complicated and difficult to treat, and professional help is very often the most beneficial course of action.
We help identify a healthy body image, as well as appropriate relationships with eating and nourishment. Contact us today!