Anti-ana

It appears that French authorities are planning to crack down on pro-anorexia websites. From the Beeb:

If approved by France’s upper house, those found to have encouraged severe weight loss could be fined up to 45,000 euros and face three years in prison.French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot said the proposed law would help stop advice on how to become ultra-thin being spread through pro-anorexia sites on the internet.

“Encouraging young girls to lie to their doctors, advising them on foods that are easier to regurgitate and inciting them to beat themselves up each time they eat is not freedom of expression,” Ms Bachelot told the assembly.

This is admirable and I can’t argue, but I wonder how far they’re going to take it. The BBC says the law will affect “websites, fashion houses, magazines and advertisers” — French ones only, one must assume — but the clear implication is that they will target only websites promoting anorexia to young girls. These are harmful, of course, and I must agree with Ms. Bachelot that, while free speech on the internet is a wonderful thing, exhorting people to hurt themselves comes dangerously close to shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. But pro-ana sites aren’t the most pervasive medium promoting self-starvation.

Would this law affect, for instance, the Kimkins diet, a super-low-calorie diet invented by a woman with no medical training (and whose diet success was apparently fabricated)? The victims of this scam weren’t impressionable young girls — they were primarily grown women whose desperation to Get Control and Start a New Lifestyle (For Their Health, naturally) overpowered their capacity for critical thought. Would this law protect them from doing something they clearly wanted very badly to do — or at least prevent diet websites from providing them the materials to do it with? What about LighterLife, a 530-calorie-a-day liquid fast whose users complain of hair loss and amenorrhea (but are still reported as “successes” by the BBC)? What about the profoundly irresponsible pseudo-dietician Monica Grenfell and her crash diet plans? Nobody who promotes these diets is saying, in so many words, “you should cultivate anorexia.” They’re not preying on children. They’re simply offering a much sought-after product to people whose judgment is clouded by misinformation and frustration. When do we go after them?

Of course, the more obvious scams like Kimkins and LighterLife have already come under fire for false advertising — which is sort of a laugh, since what they’re advertising boils down to the difficult-to-dispute idea that ever-intensifying starvation will eventually make you lose weight. But the difference between these extreme diets and more standard dieting is just a matter of scale. Reading the stories of Kimkins victims, one might at first blush be flummoxed by their apparent gullibility — how could anyone think that water fasts and 500-calorie-or-less days constituted legitimate diet advice? But even leaving aside our natural susceptibility to authority (or, in this case, someone presenting herself as an authority), Kimkins doesn’t look that different from the other diet plans on the market. Why would someone be skeptical? Because the plan promotes starvation? As Kate pointed out recently, the World Food Programme, the UN’s hunger-fighting organization, says that anyone surviving on less than 2350 calories a day is below the food security line. (On the WFP website, I noticed, they often cite 2300 calories as the minimum. Then I got caught up playing Free Rice and finally made it to level 50!) Even gentle, caring, we’re-not-a-diet diets like Weight Watchers bring people in well under this cutoff. “Calories in<calories out” may be a gross oversimplification — especially since it usually goes hand-in-hand with other fallacies like “3500 calories equals a pound for every person anywhere” — but seriously underfueling your body for a significant time is going to make you lose weight for a while. Starvation works, so any diet plan that is temporarily effective on average is promoting some form of it.

My point is, it’s all very well and good to go after the pro-ana sites. But telling teenagers on Livejournal how to be more anorexic isn’t the only way to promote body-hatred, fear of food, fear of fat, or obsession with deliberate self-starvation. Why would you need to be so direct, when there are prejudiced doctors, teasing parents, a misinformed and often hateful media, and a whole internet full of raging douchebags with nothing better to do than spew casual brutality? The culture at large will instill the desperation and the terror — and not only in young girls, but in adults and parents and men. Diet companies, not a single one of which allows a level of nutrition that the WFP would recognize as adequate, just sit back and minister to those who approach them. The boundary between promoting anorexia and pushing a diet like Kimkins is vanishingly narrow, and the boundary between a diet that allows you to starve on 500 calories a day and one that allows you to starve a little slower on 1000 is almost as brittle. And they’re all just symptoms, just ways of trying to deal with the body-hatred, cruelty, and obsession that festers in our culture.

When people are so afraid of fat that they’re failing to nourish their children, how much good will it do to shut down a few thinspo forums? I applaud the French government for proposing to make this first move, but I wonder if it’s symbolic. Are they looking only to protect naive young nymphets? Or are they ready to acknowledge the undeserved adoration that our culture has for starvation, among people of all ages and sizes? Are they waging a nominal fight against anorexia’s Web presence, or are they actually interested in promoting adequate nutrition and mental health across the board?

44 thoughts on “Anti-ana

  1. level 50? RAWK ‘N’ ROLL! I think I got to 35 when I played. I donated 100,000 grains of rice though. ^_^ I shall play today now. :)

    Something about this still isn’t sitting right with me. As I said in my blog (And I’m happy the fatosphere is opening this one up): It doesn’t seem to be getting everything it could, and it might seem unfair. Most of the sites that are on the opposite end are adult, but the slippery slope applies here I think.

    But I’m still laughing at the psychologist and the other people commenting about it. They said the link between negative body image and the media is “Hazy.” Rightttt-t… That’s why special K had a weight loss ad on the side of the article for me. SWIMSUIT SEASON!! lol

    I still don’t know where I stand, but thank you Kate for your insight.

  2. Excellent objections, FJ. I think the public health campaigns – a.k.a. anti-obesity scourges – conducted at the government level have more of an impact in inciting disordered relationships with food than some teenager’s pro-ana LiveJournal site. And since many an eating disorder begins as a simple and innocuous diet, the burgeoning culturally-sanctioned diet industry also bears much of the blame.

    I like the bill, personally. It’s a first step in countering the glamorization of sickness. But I worry that if such legislation is used against promoting unhealthy thinness, could it also be used similarly against those things people like MeMe Roth accuse of “glorifying obesity?”

  3. Banning things outright rarely works. It just drives them underground.

    What I would rather see instead–and what I think we could possibly develop as a campaign to send to our government representatives–is a restriction in advertising for potentially dangerous health products.

    We currently already restrict alcohol and tobacco ads. And the FCC also restricts adult-level programming to hours in which children will likely be asleep.

    I propose something similar: Restricting advertising for the following products to after 10 p.m. on broadcast and cable media; and to adult-aimed media:

    1. Prescription pharmaceuticals.

    2. Non-prescription diet or other metabolic products (including body-building “supplements” and such.)

    3. Diet plans, especially commercial ones, including WW, Jenny Craig, etc.

    4. Invasive or easily misused beauty products, such as Botox, chemical peels, dermabrasion, body wraps, etc.

    5. Diet “food.” Not just otherwise-normal and healthy food that’s naturally low in fat, sugar or calories, or which has good stuff–vitamins, whole grains, etc.–added, but anything that’s designed to be used as a meal replacement, or a deliberately reduced-calorie snack food. This would cover stuff like Slim-Fast, Atkins “food” and such.

    6. Gym memberships, personal trainers, workout videos, etc.

    7. Cosmetic surgery of any kind, including WLS, face lifts, boob jobs, etc.

    To placate the people who will (of course) freak out about the “obesity epidemic” blah blah, the bill could also include a clause restricting advertising for high-fat, high-sugar, nutritionally void snack foods.

    The point to a bill like this is that adults have a right to make their own choices about what they put into their bodies (or take out of them.) But children don’t have the mental capacity to make those decisions. And the constant bombardment of advertising for potentially dangerous diet plans, drugs and garbage food is literally killing them.

    We need to take nutrition and weight loss/gain out of the hands of profit-focused commercial industries, and put it back to licensed nutritionists where it belongs.

  4. But I worry that if such legislation is used against promoting unhealthy thinness, could it also be used similarly against those things people like MeMe Roth accuse of “glorifying obesity?”

    It sounds to me like the goal is to use it not against promoting thinness, but against promoting thinness-inducing behaviors (which is exactly why I think it doesn’t go far enough by going after diet sites and hey, why not, books and storefronts as well). So the analogy would be if you found a site that was telling people to eat — what was it that woman in the Guardian said? — “about six whole rotisserie chickens a day washed down with 16 pints of double cream, half a cow and probably the entire produce of Ireland’s potato farms, deep-fried and with a coating of beer batter.” Which… they’re welcome to shut those down if they can find FA sites promoting such behavior.

  5. I’m still at lvl 44. Must Donate Rice!!!

    I get into big arguments with my father all the time when I point out that 1500 calories a day is not healthy. Is there a type of disorder that gets off on controlling other people’s food intake?

  6. I’m sorry, OT seriously here, but first comment made me wonder: If it’s swimsuit season, can I get a license to hunt swimsuits? *insert mental image of GH on shooting range peppering holes into ugly beachwear*

  7. Tal, I think this is an interesting idea, but I couldn’t help but notice all the good/bad food language you used! Of course it’s a marketing scheme, but certainly some marketed diet foods do contain “food.” And there is no agreement that food that’s naturally low in fat, sugar, or calories is “normal and healthy,” or, for that matter, that healthy food = good. Likewise there is no agreement that the high-fat, high-sugar foods are bad in some way. They certainly aren’t nutritionally “void” – for instance, they contain fat and sugar, which are nutritionally critical.

    I also disagree with the suggestion that there is such a thing as “garbage food” killing the childrenz! I for one am SO glad I was able to eat the best ever, wholly undercooked and delicious chocolate chip cookies sold in my high school cafeteria back in the day. I would so give those to my kids.

    And dude, I trust licensed nutritionists barely more than the for-profit diet industry that plays such a huge role in educating them. The power to decide what is and is not healthy for me is not something I’m going to grant to ANYone 100%.

  8. I have to admit, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of cracking down on pro-ana websites.

    I am no expert under anyone’s definitions, but my limited experiences is that such sites are often a haven for young women from a world where they feel more oppressed, more out of control, and more hated. Pro-ana sites are often places where these girls talk about feeling safe for the first time.

    I don’t know. I don’t think that this is necessarily a positive thing – I want these girls to feel safe someplace else instead – but pushing these girls to feel even more persecuted and out of control strikes me as a bad thing, since so much of eating disorders come from a need to excert control over *something*.

    Again – not an expert, and totally willing to be disagreed with strongly, cuz I often am wrong.

  9. So the analogy would be if you found a site that was telling people to eat — what was it that woman in the Guardian said? — “about six whole rotisserie chickens a day washed down with 16 pints of double cream, half a cow and probably the entire produce of Ireland’s potato farms, deep-fried and with a coating of beer batter.” Which… they’re welcome to shut those down if they can find FA sites promoting such behavior.

    OMG, talk about your flamebait. She cannot possibly believe we all eat that much or that even a significant percentage of us do. (How could we even afford it, just for starters?)

  10. And FJ, your post was excellent and thought-provoking. I’m not sure I like the idea of any government shutting down ANY Web sites at all, and like you said, these sites don’t exactly exist in a cultural vacuum.

  11. “about six whole rotisserie chickens a day washed down with 16 pints of double cream, half a cow and probably the entire produce of Ireland’s potato farms, deep-fried and with a coating of beer batter.”

    That’s the real reason I like coming here: the menu suggestions. I don’t even know what double cream is, but it must be good if us fatties luv it.

  12. I’ve been studying systems theory for the last year.

    Pro-ana sites are the “identified patient” in the proposed bill. Getting rid of the sites would accomplish nothing. It would just make people think something was being done.

    Disordered eating and beauty ideals are a part of the system, symptoms of pernicious patriarchy that has used the body as a comodity for centuries. If you’re female and wish to represent yourself through media, you get only one legitimate context: sexy vixen. You’re not even allowed on myspace as a female unless you do your damnedest to look like a stripper. To quote Twisty Faster, it’s “the pornification of the culture.”

    And dammit, FJ! I liked to believe that I had invented the term “casual brutality.” Maybe I read it in a post of yours.

  13. It just popped into my head today when reading comments on the Beth Ditto interview, so maybe I subconsciously plagiarized it from you somehow (or we both stole it from the same place? Or it’s just the best way of describing the phenomenon).

  14. I said this at Big Fat Blog, so I’ll say it here. If they attempt to shut down pro-ana sites, then any site that promotes a mindset majority doesn’t find acceptable, such as FA acceptance, GLBT, etc. could be considered a target too. And on the opposite side of pro-ana, there is pro-feederism, which isn’t healthy either. Those sites would have to be considered dangerous too.

  15. If they attempt to shut down pro-ana sites, then any site that promotes a mindset majority doesn’t find acceptable, such as FA acceptance, GLBT, etc. could be considered a target too

    In this case, I find that needlessly alarmist. Objecting to sites that promote ACTIONS that the majority finds dangerous is not the same as objecting to sites that promote MINDSETS the majority finds disturbing or unacceptable. It’s a slippery slope, but it’s not that slippery.

  16. i’ve always fully believed that pro ana sites should be shut down, but in recent weeks my opinion has changed quite a bit. i think it’s horrible that they exist and i see no reason why they should be allowed, but i no longer feel they should be hunted down and booted off-line.

    not long ago i would have applauded a bill like this, but now it just seems like a waste of resources. symbolic, yes, or if not that then just extremely near-sighted. shutting down pro-ana sites is relatively easy, and the government can dust off its hands and say, Well! Done with that! the people behind the sites are a bunch of individuals who are not about to go to court to fight for their rights to stay online; they are not a multibillion-dollar industry. but it’s easier to fight the former and put up the appearance of having “done something.”

  17. I don’t know what kind of effect this would have. I doubt many young women become anorexic because of pro-ana sites, I think it’s more likely women who are already eating disordered end up there. And on the one hand, yes, they encourage dangerous behaviours in each other, but on the other, I think Anna is right, sometimes you really just need to talk to somebody who understands. Although I guess there’s a difference between pro-ana groups and anorexia support groups in that respect.

    FJ, how do you draw the line between promoting starvation and promoting thinness?

  18. I’m not sure you do, Becky — or anyway I’m not sure you can draw a line between promoting starvation and promoting weight loss. The essence of weight-loss dieting is “eat less than you want or need” — the difference between that and starvation is somewhat academic.

    Which is not to say that I think governments should go around shutting down diet sites willy-nilly and I hope I didn’t imply that. But we need to look at the problem as one that reaches far beyond websites and forums that say “you should be anorexic” in so many words.

  19. FJ, what I meant was: “It sounds to me like the goal is to use it not against promoting thinness, but against promoting thinness-inducing behaviors” How do you distinguish the difference? And isn’t promoting thinness the real problem? (After all, people can figure out the how if it for themselves, just eat as little as possible).

  20. Becky, from what I’ve been reading, the objection to pro-ana websites isn’t that they suggest it’s a good idea to be thin, but that they offer tips on how to go about starving yourself or purging to get thin. I do think promoting thinness is the real problem, since that’s what creates demand for sites like this, but on a legal/political front I’m a lot more comfortable with proposed legislation to crack down on a site saying “here’s how to harm yourself” than a site saying “here’s how to think about yourself.”

  21. I’m not sure how I feel about this. While I applaud the effort to strike a blow against body hatred, I think this is most definitely a bandaid measure that will probably fail to do anything about the actual problem.

    As someone who used to frequent pro-ana sites, I can tell you that I never participated in any that tried to recruit anyone to anorexia. That doesn’t mean that such sites don’t exist, but in my experience the majority of pro-anorexia sites provide a haven, albeit a dangerous one, for people who aren’t ready to consider recovery. When I used to use them, sure, I had girls congratulate me for eating only a grapefruit and a bowl of tomato soup in a day, but…I was already congratulating myself for that. However, I also had a group of girls (because they were mostly girls; I don’t recall any male members) who encouraged me to think about recovery when I said I was ready for it. The main idea seemed to be that it was your life, and you should choose how to live it.

    Of course, there’s a whole debate about whether or not you can make a rational choice about recovery when you are in the throes of such an illness, but regardless, just making pro-anorexia sites illegal will do nothing to stop the spread of the disease; it will just further encourage the isolation that most people dealing with eating disorders already live with.

    It would take a whole cultural revolution to (perhaps) decrease the incidence of eating disorders, and empty gestures like this only serve to convince the general public that tackling this problem is as simple as a+b=c.

    And, of course, the whole “what will they shut down next aspect” is a little frightening. Though, as fillyjonk said, I doubt the slope is truly that slippery, once you’ve started banning things, it isn’t that hard to start including others if you really, really, want to.

  22. Ok, really stupid question that I can’t find a definitive answer to: is restricting websites promoting/giving instructions for actions that are likely to be considered dangerous to the general public (like making bombs and such) a common practice? If so, this could fall into that category. Personally, I’m torn–both eating disorders and censorship suck!

    And the Kimkins reference made me cringe; it was a bit of a fad in another internets community that I’m a part of a while ago (I didn’t participate) and yes, it is as bad as it sounds. Unfortunately one of the gals is still on it, and it’s not pretty.

  23. The problem inherent in shutting down pro-ana sites is that such sites will continue to resurface – and in more numerous numbers given the swelling of attention – but they will be even more underground than before. There are some pro-ana sites that are easy to find through a Google search, but many of the hard-core and active sites are very secretive. You basically learn of them through word-of-mouth and membership is highly restrictive. I belonged to a very active pro-ana board that has since shut its membership to new people down completely. Because I have an old login, I’m still able to view it. Other sites allow new members, but your access is limited and you have to post in certain forums a number of times before you are granted full-access.

    So, while I think France’s move is wonderful in theory, I harbor no illusion that it will be effective in execution. And as has been stated, you don’t accidentally stumble across these sites and think, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” The seed has already been planted and you actively search out these sites. If no such sites exist, you either create one or seek what it is you want to know elsewhere, like, say, any of the numerous eating disorder memoirs readily available to people of all ages through the public library system.

  24. Anna wrote: I am no expert under anyone’s definitions, but my limited experiences is that such sites are often a haven for young women from a world where they feel more oppressed, more out of control, and more hated. Pro-ana sites are often places where these girls talk about feeling safe for the first time.

    I agree to an extent, Anna, and I made this same point in a previous blog entry. But many such sites are only supportive if you join in on the party line there, and the support they provide is dubious, at best. And because anorexia in particular is a highly-competitive disorder with little regard for anyone but the sufferer, you can easily be shunned and ostracized, which may exacerbate issues for an already vulnerable person.

    I think the best solution would be to encourage the creation of spaces where people can discuss their eating disorder honestly and openly, but yet stops short at providing forums by which someone can get sicker. One of the reasons I don’t visit the Something Fishy boards is because its like a nanny state. Numbers – of any kind – are banned there, so even if you mention your two sisters, the number two is blocked out. I understand why they have done this, but it’s not the kind of place for me.

    FJ wrote: …from what I’ve been reading, the objection to pro-ana websites isn’t that they suggest it’s a good idea to be thin, but that they offer tips on how to go about starving yourself or purging to get thin.

    As for banning dangerous thinness-inducing behaviors, a girl or woman can pick up any fashion magazine or go to her doctor and learn much of the same tips and advice distributed on pro-ana boards. We often prescribe to fat people what would be considered disordered for thin people. I doubt they’ll recognize the similarities in the two, though.

  25. I really just wanted to say that’s an awesome post, fillyjonk. It’s one of those things I wish could be shouted from the rooftops until people get it into their *heads.*

  26. Ha, my mom hangs out on the low-carb forum where Kimkins originated (Heidi Diaz used to post as “Kimmer”), and I could tell that the woman was a lying sack of fraud long before she was busted. And I don’t doubt that in retrospect it is obvious to others that she was a fraud, but this culture makes people so hellbent on weight loss at any cost that they bought into her lies hook, line, and sinker.

  27. For those who can read French, their womens’ mags are far healthier as to body image than American ones. Models are not as airbrushed and more interesting-looking, and their idea of a diet (I was reading last month’s French Marie Claire) involves chocolate, fish with sauce and lots of different oils.

  28. What’s most disturbing to me, Lois, isn’t that people buy into 500 calorie per day diets, but that such calorie levels are *praised by doctors* when they have performed bariatric surgery on people. I couldn’t believe my ears the other day when an announcer voiced over a shot of a woman post-op who was eating 500 calories per day, and that was supposed to be a great thing. So why is Heidi Diaz on the hook for hurting people when doctors can do the exact same thing with impunity? It’s pretty damned scary if you ask me. At least the Kimkins people *can* start eating again – when you’ve had your stomach cut out and most of your intestine bypassed to prevent nutrition absorption, there’s no real going back.

  29. The thing that sort of bothers me about this is that not only does it seem to be targeting a SYMPTOM of the problem (pro-ana websites) rather than addressing root causes (say, giving more funding for treatment of eating disorders and research into their etiology, and maybe working out this whole cultural obsession with body weight and food thing, and the size discrimination that comes along with it), but also, couldn’t the same arguments TECHNICALLY be used to “crack down” on sites “promoting obesity?”

    Just a thought. I mean, think what other insane things have been done in the name of solving The Obesity Epidemic. Obviously, I don’t like things that promote eating disorders, and would like to see an end to those things. I’m just not sure this is the way to go.

  30. shutting down pro-ana sites is relatively easy

    Not even slightly. It is completely impossible for a government to eliminate any particular kind of speech from the internet, and frankly it’s a waste of resources trying.

    This sort of criminalise-the-symptom, blame-the-victims, jail-girls-for-their-own-opression crap does nothing for me. Anyone who thinks that the root cause of eating disorders and low self-esteem in girls is young women talking amongst themselves has no clue about how the patriarchy works.

  31. Can I just say that Rachel’s site is one of the most relevant, thoughtful places on the web about the many engines of disordered eating and EDs?

    I am ashamed at some of the baseless assumptions I had about anorexics and bulimics. I’m in recovery for binge-eating, myself, but God, the things I assumed about anorexics. If it weren’t for Rachel’s pointed and provocative posts about ED and ED research, I’d still be nurturing one of my shameful little prejudices.

    Rachel also made me think very hard about the persistent wish to *have anorexia* that emerges whenever I am fighting a hardcore binge trigger.

    Oh, and lauredhel? SO MUCH WORD.

  32. lauredhel, i meant on an individual basis. it is relatively easy to have a server boot a particular site. but then it just crops up elsewhere. (i thought i said that in my comment but i see i didn’t. my fault.)

    “We often prescribe to fat people what would be considered disordered for thin people.” —> wanted to agree that this is so true.

    “Anyone who thinks that the root cause of eating disorders and low self-esteem in girls is young women talking amongst themselves has no clue about how the patriarchy works.” —> as is this.

  33. I pose a question to everyone that supports fines and censorship for pro-ana websites.

    How many other mental illnesses do we make illegal or propose fines for their symptoms?

    We shouldn’t forget that an eating disorder is classified as a mental illness. It is not just a hobby. If a depressed person tries to commit suicide (which is illegal) they are not served with a fine at the hospital. We have provisions in our legal system that takes mental illness into consideration when determining legal liability. If a schizophrenic person commits a crime (ideally) they are sent to a treatment facility instead of a normal prison facility. So why are people so ready to jump on the bandwagon to fine those that are only behaving as a result of their mental illness? I know that some will say that they are liable because it affects other people, but if a schizophrenic murders someone in a delusional state they are not legally liable so why should an anorexic telling others what they do make them liable? Which is what a tip is; they are telling other people what has worked for them. I’m not at all supporting pro-ana, but I recognize that people who suffer from mental illness need certain protections.

  34. Derailing serious stuff to butt in that apparently FreeRice goes above 50–I just saw 51 for the first time ever. Am very worried that if there is no top level, I will singlehandedly cure world hunger, lose my own job, need FreeRice. Well, I guess the poison is also the cure…

  35. In regards to the legal liability to the mentally ill. Sad to say, but even the most severely mentally ill are often held liable for their actions and are more often than not given harsh sentences. Because in the court’s mindset, “the whole thing could’ve been avoided if only they’d taken their medication, gone to treatment, etc.” and therefore it’s their own fault.

    Many times the mentally ill are not taken to hospitals but to jail initially. Most often though, they are injured first, if not killed. When you lose touch with reality it’s very difficult to follow orders especially when they are being barked at you.

    Most people don’t know that you can’t just drop off a person at a mental health facility. Even if they are under the care of a psychiatrist, unless that psychiatrist makes plans to admit that patient to that particular hospital. Most times the patient will have to go to an emergency room to be evaluated by a regular doctor to see if they are a threat to themselves or others and THEN they will be escorted by police (even if it’s voluntary) to the mental health ward or mental health facility. At that point they call it voluntary but it’s not. If you refuse treatment at any point beyond that time, they will consider putting you into non-voluntary treatment (AKA the infamous 5150) and you’ll have to go to mental health court and let a judge and “jury” decide your fate. Basically you go and promise to be good, take your meds, do your treatment plan and in turn the sheriff won’t come and pick you up and throw you back in the nut hut.

    Just wanted to clarify a few things, since I know quite a bit about the mental health side of things. Been crazy for well over half my 33 years.

  36. My stomach always tends to turn when I see pro-ana websites. Especially now that they have “warnings” on them which make them seem all the more enticing for teen girls to read. Of course, “thinspiration” in the form of every popular celebrity doesn’t make it any less enticing anyway.

    Talk about turning stomachs, I wanted to know if anyone saw this children’s book about explaining how plastic surgery makes Mommy look prettier:

    http://kissmyassets.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/plastic-surgery-book-for-kids-mommy-needs-a-surgeon-to-get-pretty/

    Very scary. Starting young…

    Dr. Robyn

  37. Dr. Robyn, Big Tent Books is a vanity press; Newsweek is giving the book about a zillion times more undue recognition than it ever would have had normally (since vanity press sales usually consist of, like, the author’s mom and sister). Newsweek’s the one I’m pissed at here… they’re perpetuating a harmful zeitgeist by finding excuses to report on it. Seeking out an incredibly obscure vanity-published book in order to say “wow, there sure is a trend of moms getting plastic surgery, HOW AWFUL ahem ahem” seems irresponsible.

  38. Thanks, Fillyjonk- and point well taken. Newsweek did certainly make a big story of it and now, it’s out there in full force. It can be scary that a small-time book can get big-time publicity simply because the press spins it that way. I appreciate your take on the situation. Let’s hope it blows over and gets buried.

    Dr. Robyn

  39. Madicated- I very much realize that our current legal system is less than capable of handling mental illness cases. I had the opportunity to tour the facilities in Venita Oklahoma that house our states prisoners not guilty by insanity and not capable of defending themselves during a court room trial. What I am saying is it would be counterproductive to directly write laws that make mental illness illegal especially one that is mostly directed at minors at this moment in history. I realize that there are pro-ana sites that contain adults but i think you could argue that the majority of pro-ana members are teenagers and young adults. Meaning a law based on fines is meaningless to most minors, their parents will be the ones paying the fines. So they would be writing a law that is infective and almost impossible to enforce seeing as you could just move the site to a server in a country where its not illegal.

  40. Just for the record, I said lonnnggg ago that one day, faliure to thrive would be seen as healthy in small children. I just wanted to announce, I saw this coming.

  41. I really hope that this bill will pass. I am 14 and recovering from anorexia/bulimia. I went to these pro ana websites almost every day, it truely did become an obession for me to be thin. And while I understand people may feel uncomfortable shutting down the pro ana websites, because they let girls “feel safe and open their feelings.” The pro ana sites I went to religiously did nothing but crush my esteem. I was rewarded for starving myself, pushing myself until I couldn’t walk straight. Girl say they are your “support” which means they will NEVER tell you to get help, in that world support means they will fast with you and help you reach your goal weight. I am tempted to go back to the pro ana websites, and everyday it’s a struggle for me. But if I want to get better, I will not support the pro ana websites, because if I ever go back to one, it will only trigger my past eating disorder. Thank you to anyone who listened to my long story!! =D

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