The prevalence of “pro-ana” and “pro-bulimia” websites are intensifying the problem of adolescents developing negative body image and eating disorders.These websites attempt to normalize extreme behavior, and promote anorexia as the right lifestyle choice to achieve happiness and perfection. An article from The Telegraph talks about a blog that was created by a woman who began restricting her diet at 9. She gives her thousands of followers tips and tricks on calorie-counting, managing hair-loss and malnutrition, evading the urge to eat, and hiding these behaviors from others. Around two-thirds of the 1.6 million people in the UK who are affected by an eating disorder will have visited “how-to” sites such as this. However, there is serious concern that as people try to raise awareness of these sites, they are also attracting more people to seek them out.
Pro-eating disorder content intensifies body dissatisfaction among healthy people, and there are even more vulnerable and impressionable 12 and 13 year olds that have access to and are visiting these blogs. But can social media be utilized in a way that promotes body positivity and healthy lifestyle choices? Social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are capable of reaching a massive global audience, and we want to encourage using that power for good when it comes to overcoming the association of media usage with body negativity and eating disorders.
Candidate for Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, Class of 2018