Pro-Anorexia Websites and Recovery

In a recent article in Time magazine, Maia Szalavitz suggests that “Pro-Ana” blogs and websites can actually help some anorexics. On the periphery of Szalavitz’s argument, I can agree with much that she says, however when it gets to the core, I have to disagree with the fundamental principles of what she is suggesting.

Before I transitioned I actually ran what could be described as a “Pro-Ana” forum, and of course I participated in other “Pro-Ana” activities. For example I have traveled to the United States several times in order to meet people who I met through “Pro-Ana” websites and forums. I think that the social outlet it allowed me to develop was very beneficial. That being said, in order to begin recovery (I would prefer to use the term remission as I believe that being anorexic is a lot like being an alcoholic, it never really goes away.) I had to disassociate myself from the “Pro-Ana” world. I lost touch with some friends, however it was worth it. I was able to live a proper life without a feeding tube and other unpleasant measures used to keep the severely malnourished alive!

I agree with Szalavitz that the “Pro-Ana” websites can provide a social outlet that allows anorexics to share their stories, their troubles, etc. in what is essentially a judgment free environment. However, I disagree with the core of her agreement. I do not believe that you can use “Pro-Ana” websites to cure yourself of Anorexia… It would be like suggesting that an alcoholic could be cured by going to the bar, or a cocaine addict cured by spending more time at his/her favorite crack-shack. It just isnt going to work. I have known a lot of people with eating disorders, both in the forum I used to run, and in other forums that I participated in, and I know many people who have recovered, and their anorexia is in remission, however not a single one of them was about to recover while still participating in the “Pro-Ana” forum. Everyone had to leave in order to get better.

Thus, I agree with Maia Szalavitz that “Pro-Ana” sites can be beneficial to people suffering from anorexia. However I do not believe, and it has not been my experience that anyone can recover while participating in “Pro-Ana” activities of any kind, be they on or offline.

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