Ana embodies nervous anorexia and is the protagonist of many blogs advocating ana – pro-ana.
The authors of such on-line secret diaries talk about Ana as if she was a dear friend, they defend her when she is attacked by outsiders and look up at her as a symbol of perfect beauty.
In reality, Ana is a serious illness that can lead to death and such blogs are extremely dangerous because they list detailed instructions on how to become anorexic with their authors supporting each other in the effort of achieving their ultimate goal: lose weight.
They teach how to vomit, give advice on which laxatives and diuretics to use, praise and admire those of them who are able to reject food and bad-mouth anybody who tries to make them aware that Ana is actually an illness and that they should look for help. The problem is that these blogs are easily accessible to everybody, especially those confused teenage girls in search for a solution to their complex adolescence related problems.
Rebecka Peebles, professor of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimora surveyed 180 blogs pro-anorexia (pro-ana) and is now launching a warning to the international community.
The survey published on the American Journal of Public Healthdescribes pro-ana diaries as being extremely worrying and dangerous especially because the information they contain is easily available and accessible to everybody with an internet connection: 80% of pro-ana web-sites have interactive applications – to count calories, for instance; 85% of them publishes pictures of extremely skinny and emaciated women to serve as a source of inspiration – called thinspiration; 83% suggests ways to loose weight quickly and gain complete control over the body until reaching the final goal of weighting 45 kilos or even less.
Lastly, 24% of such sites have been stamped as extremely dangerous for its readers.
It should be noted, however, that such web-sites are calls for help: “For many patients, internet becomes a tool to express their feelings rather than doing so through the most traditional healing methods, such as psychotherapy” explain the authors of the survey.
It is of paramount importance to explain teenage girls that being skinny does not equal being perfect and to promote beauty standards which start from and are all about being healthy.