Late last week the NY Times blog Well profiled a website, Proud2BeMe, the aim of which is to provide an alternative of pro-ana and thinspo sites.
This is the key passage for me:
For a recent study, she and Nicole Martins, an assistant professor at the university, talked to 33 pro-ana bloggers, women ages 15 to 33 who were willing to be interviewed. The study, published in August in the journal Health Communication, showed that participants were motivated to blog as a way to cope with a stigmatized illness and a means of self-expression and social support.
Pro-ana has always been a seeking for peer support. I haven't been on a pro-ana/pro-mia site in a long time (yes, the latter exists, but as with so many things bulimic in the eating disorder world, it tends to get brushed under the media rug in favor of the sanitized view of anorexia). But when I did frequent them (mostly in high school) (yes, they existed then) I can say to the best of my recollection that the participants were never anything but kind, warm, and open-minded.
I don't know if my experience was typical, but when girls went into treatment or gained weight, or started LiveJournals (they weren't called "blogs" then, not quite yet) talking about their recovery? The response I remember was always very supportive. I don't know about now, but then, these weren't sites about keeping each other sick (at least not deliberately).
And to be totally honest, they were a space without men. Actually, scratch that. There were some boys and young men on the LJ pages where I participated or followed. But they were very... how to describe it... funhouse-mirror feminist. Feminist except in that eating disorders are an angry, proud symptom of everything anti-feminist in our culture, much in the way that hysteria can be seen as a symptom within that earlier culture.
They were sites about not judging one another. Yes, in a very disordered way, but there it is.
And that's more than I can say for the commenters on this piece. >_<
- Eliot W. Collins
I rarely see anyone who is obviously anorexic. I do see many people who are obviously obese. They are everywhere.
- Raritan Borough, NJ