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.


  1. We are all beautiful in or own way, shapes, sizes & colors. I encounter teen girls frequently, and try in talking with them, to really instill some self love…a close friends daughter of mine was cutting and Ana…..awww….many talks, this girl and I…she has a long road ahead of her….breaks my heart… It is definitely a very confusing misguided double standard challenging time for these poor ladies… Thank you for this post.

  2. As a graduate student in Counseling Psychology, it pleases me greatly to see people in the fashion industry who recognize the dangers of anorexia nervosa and bulemia and speak out against it. Keep spreading your message. Thank you.

  3. Its sad that girls think the only way to look good is to look hungry. Its difficult to accept your body as it is when you are young and the media certainly doesnt help create a positive self image!

  4. First, I have to say thank you for following my blog. I have heard about anorexia promoting websites and thought to myself, this is crazy! If they only knew. I once had anorexia shortly after my first child was born and I could have died. After about 6 months of being a hardcore anorexic, my hair started falling out and I immediately changed my habits. I started taking TwinLab gainers fuel with no guilt. I coughed my anorexia up as a way to control what was happening in my life to postpartum depression. I was lucky that I was able to “snap out” of it. Thanks for your blog! It is very much needed!!!

  5. I love what you stand for. Believe me identifying a problem is the most important step in getting cure. Get your message as people need to know about anorexia. Thank you for liking my blog.

  6. Pingback: Anorexia and Perfection | Finding Myself

  7. I like the fact that you have addressed this issue, I suffered from anorexia and bolemia when I was 19, while teaching, I would cringe when girls refused to eat, I know full well that we need to help others with this dreadful and harmful problem. Keep up the excellent situations and writing we are confronted with.

  8. I love your line near the end about being skinny does not equal being perfect. I struggled with body image in my junior high/high school/college years and had a distorted image of what I looked like. It was only years later when I saw pictures of me during that time, I realized that I wasn’t fat at all…I was too skinny.

    Glad you’re taking a stand against those sites. I hope the message catches on!

  9. supernova

    Well done in writing this article, so important to reiterate this message, especially to young girls. Regards James 🙂

  10. Thank you for this blog! I have a family member (male, rare) who has suffered from the disease his whole life. It’s very much like an addiction, something that must be controlled over a lifetime. It is shameful the way the media promotes superthin models, tempting women towards anorexia. It is a life-threatening, life-long disease. I am glad to see your work against the promotion of this disease.
    p.s. thanks for following my blog, Be As One.

    • Thank you dear Susan!
      i’m sorry about your family member,but sadly men are suffering too from this disease. It is just that women are more likely to become victims because of the society we live in that expect us to be in a certain way, to do certain things, many times to be a fantasy … A society that has no identity and no quality many times … media is a power but the real power is in us. We have the power to choose. we should learn to love ourselves first of any other thing in this world! just by loving ourselves we could make the right choices!

  11. True words! I am a model myself. I see so many girls trying to diet but in the wrong way (crash dieting/binge-starve methods) and really upsets me.
    I see the raw/un edited pictures from shoots I do and then the touched up / edited ones- and the difference is big. I wish all girls/women knew how much is edited in the media pictures.
    I am trying to GAIN weight at the moment which is so difficult as a female- everything is aimed for weight loss these days! I suffered from eating problems 5 years ago and am SO glad I never found out about these site- I think they would have made me much more ill/not recovered as fast as I did!

  12. I’m going to be fifty- five in a few weeks, I’m in menopause, and I’m confidently facing the next stage of my life. I went through anorexia and bulimia when I was nineteen. What an awful time. I’m so glad I recovered. I work with the youth group at church – 200 middle schoolers and high schoolers. I fear for these kids. I see parents putting 12 year olds on diets. Really? Personally I do what I can to stay connected to kids and try to give them some guidance through all of the choices out there. Hopefully we can all work to keep kids away from those destructive websites.

  13. I’ve heard of those pro-ana sites and they horrify me. So glad there are those fighting them, and providing support for girls (and boys… and women and men) who need it. As another person here said, all power to you in eradicating these sites, and this illness.

  14. Obrigada por curtir meu blog,! Seu blog é muito importante, e a forma como fala de “Ana” é incrivelmente criativa sem cair no lugar comum. parabéns!

  15. The television comedy series, Mike and Molly, does not promote the message that being overweight is normal. Quite the reverse. Young adult viewers watching the show often time feel disgusted with themselves. They readily identify with the main characters and often seek an online authority to assist them with their own weight loss crusade. They are desperate for answers and manipulating online gurus who offer questionable advice but no understanding. Yes, men as well as women are anorexic and bulimic. If only more fashion designers would create clothing that emphasizes health and not emaciation.

  16. Pro-anorexia sites is really a terrible thing! The Internet is big, strong powerful, informative, making the world a global village but when used wrongly becomes deadly 😦
    You are definitely doing a good work in showing up these sites for what they are, whenever and wherever we can may we all be instruments in guiding the younger ones aright.

    In response to the model who said a lot of touching-up goes into the final pictures that we see in the media, maybe we should start asking for ‘cigarette packaging type warnings’ on media adverts and exposure of models.
    “Be aware that the images of the models in these pictures have been electronically enhanced, attempting to look like them could be very dangerous to your health”

  17. I was not aware of the pro anorexia sites before reading this. The way that the media portrays young, thin as being the perfect way is very destructive to young women in particular. My daughter-in-law has a niece who is also battling anorexia and it is really difficult for everybody.
    And thanks for visiting and deciding to follow my blog. Only rarely do I post on anything serious – mainly I write memories for my grandchildren.

  18. You are doing a public service; please keep up the good work! The unreachable targets of “beauty” given to us by marketers and media are present for one reason only: to make a profit. The self-destruction, and destruction of others, that results from those obsessed is an unspeakable horror. Your voice is much needed.

  19. This is a very important message and you rightly emphasise that these women (and perhaps a few men too) need our support and compassion.
    Thanks for following my blog, I’ll return the favor!

  20. I was surprised that you found our church site promoting Fun Fridays. I wish you well with your site. Ana is a serious problem for our society. When I see fashion magazines with thin models that look like cocaine addicts, I wonder about the gender preferences and lifestyles of the men who seem to dominate the global fashion scene.

  21. Thanks for your post. I was overweight as a child and most of my life so far; yet when I see photos of my several years ago, I wasn’t always as fat as I thought. Now I’m fatter than ever probably, well overweight anyway and like most women, have no great liking for my body but I’m glad I do not sucumb to anorexia. I’ve known people who did – it’s a very unpleasant illness. Thanks for dropping by my blog too.

  22. I suffered from anorexia aged 17, but it really took hold more severely several years later when I was in a relationship with another person who had been anorexic, was then bulimic and alcoholic and battling with issues of sexual abuse. Fortunately we were both able to get help via therapy, or counselling, or the Eating Disorders Association, or rehab. It took a few years from my life though, and I was genuinely feeling ‘mad’ in a terrifying way for some time, and found that I could not switch my eating habits on and off as I thought I would be able to! I became intolerant of certain foods. This was all 20 plus years ago, and the pressure is greater on girls now. The ‘perfect size’ then was ten, but now it’s six or eight. But clothes sizes have changed too, in the Uk, to add to the confusion. Porn and hypersexualisation of almost anything/anyone is more mainstream and encourages girls to set themselves impossible standards of bodily perfection, if looking doll-like is anything to do with perfection!
    One thing that helped me to want to overcome anorexia, and it took two years from that point, was meeting chronic anorexics at a workshop. Women whom I thought ‘didn’t look that thin’ but had lived with anorexia for over 20 years, and spoke about their shopping, non-eating, and non-socialising routines, which were strictly defined. Even though I wanted to ‘win; by going down to, say, 5 stone (impossible for me, was never anything like that weight in my adult life) and being hospitalised, a part of me knew I would be making a prison for myself if I allowed my anorexia to continue unchecked. So those women were a powerful deterrent, despite my competitive feelings. Eventually I realised that the only “Winning” from anorexia was to die, and I did not want to do that, aged 28. I hope these photographs and words will help girls who are living with the daily struggle. Thank you for sharing these truly shocking images.

  23. So very true! It never ceases to amaze me when it comes to all the unhealthy and negative things that the majority in society seem to perpetuate. Sadly, for those negative and self-destructive behaviors to change, the minority must stand up, speak up, and tear down the walls,not from the outside of society, but from within the very monster. Its an uphill battle, but it must start somewhere!

  24. When I look back at pictures of myself in high school I am shocked at how amazing a body I had. I was an athlete, toned and strong… I just couldn’t see it then. I felt very overweight and always tried to hide my body. At the same time, I could never understand how someone with anorexia could see themselves as fat when they were so scarily thin. I now see that it is just a more severe form of the same body dysmorphia that I had. The paradox is so sad – people think they will be happy by controlling their weight but their weight controls them and keeps them miserable. I’m trying to smarter now that I’m older, but the world’s obsession with weight makes it hard. Thanks for keeping the topic hot.

  25. I absolutely agree. I teach in hospital school with children with annorexia and they get a lot of support from such sites to the extent where they are not allowed use the internet while in treatment. Thank you for this. It’s so important to spread this message.

  26. It’s so sad but I think it is wonderful you posted this. I never went down the anorexic path but remember going without food for a day and feeling so empowered… the very idea of eating seemed to sully this idea that what I was doing was cleaner in some way. I had some string cheese and it was so heavy but fortunately I had really good friend who snapped me out of it immediately. But if I had friends as obsessed as I was or was on the internet more it could have been much much different. Thank you and would it be alright if I mention this in a future post on my blog? (Thank you for following btw)

  27. Wise words. I am naturally thin and have trouble gaining weight. I am not proud of my size. So many times people question me. Thin is just the way I am, but it should not be a goal….HEALTHY! That is the goal!

  28. Years ago, I was a little shocked that there were people putting up websites advocating eating disorders. A little because I have always been awaye that Newton’s Third Law applies to the huma psyche. While there are people who try to encourage peace, love, confidence, etcetera, so too are there those who deliberately encourage animosity, hatred, low self-esteem or conceit. Certainly, when it would seem logical that people would want to do more to stamp out eating disorders, there’s bound to be others who promote them.

    Sure enough, in this dichotomic world, I have come across the apathetic who say, “You’ll never stop the eating disorders, and their promoters. Give it up already.” Piss on that. The fight must continue.

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