Pro-Anorexic websites
July 27, 2001 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Pro-Anorexic websites are flourishing on the Internet. These horrific sites teach girls how to avoid eating, "purge" their food, and become terribly sick. A startling and horrific companion to MeFi's recent discussions about weight.
posted by Marquis (51 comments total)
These links are truly frightening, especially for those of us who know (susceptible?) teenagers - it's not just girls that are at risk. What's more, there's zillions of them.

The vomiting stuff positively terrifies me.

"let yourself binge once a week. and ONLY ONCE. ..if you do this you must use some form of purging actually loose weight FASTER if you binge and purge once a week in addition to starving! ...if you have never purged before i dont recomend it. you will be stuck with food you dont want. "
posted by Marquis at 8:37 AM on July 27, 2001

30. Aim to be able to wear kids clothing.

I can't believe just how awful this is. This is something that people die from.
posted by bump at 8:54 AM on July 27, 2001

there was once a yahoo group dedicated to the good of anorexia. it came under attack by SSR, a group which is dedicated to infiltrating and trolling message boards. i'd go to the site and pull down the URL, but i'm at work right now. SSR also has launched attacks on some other fun yahoo groups, such as "cumondagny" (which you can guess what it's about) and worse.
posted by moz at 8:59 AM on July 27, 2001

recently covered on salon.
posted by jeb at 8:59 AM on July 27, 2001

I remember how horrified I was when I first found out about these types of sites.

You'd think the web would offer a wealth of information, and tend to help teens grow up with a wider perspective and open mind about things, since they could be exposed to every viewpoint if they seeked it out. But it's quite possible that people will find niche communities that support their viewpoints, opinions, and way of life, and stick to that. Sites like these serve as a haven for an anorexic, because if anyone in the real world is giving them advice, they're probably telling them to stop it.

It's just sad really, it's a horrible disease, it tears your body up and it sucks that people can have such body image problems.
posted by mathowie at 9:00 AM on July 27, 2001

Thank you Cosmo and the rest of the rotten fucking media for making this possible.
posted by SuperBreakout at 9:01 AM on July 27, 2001

this is not a tip just a reminder. anorexia is always with you. it can be your best friend. its your "seceret weapon", it makes you better... embrace it..dont fight it. wheather you are here because you want to be anorexic or because you already are, were all one in the same. wanting it is the disease already started. dont be afraid of it. just go with it ;)

I want to cry.
posted by jpoulos at 9:09 AM on July 27, 2001

Mathowie: The pro-anorexia site that you highlighted in that thread last year has been replaced by this short, upsetting message:

Life has soo many twists and turns. . . Life can be hell. I exist in my own hell day after day after day. I turn inwards to find the answers to the things that bother me most. I am empty, there's nothing there. I fall deeper into a dark abyss, my mind is the keeper of the tortures I see with my eyes... All I want is to disappear. I got my wish, now all I want to do is die. . .
posted by waxpancake at 9:10 AM on July 27, 2001

HOW do people get this fucked up?? I have kids, and I'd like to avoid doing to them whatever it was that these kids' parents or whoever did to them to turn them into the splendid examples of total freakishness we see here. So, if anyone knows what not to do, please let me know.
posted by UncleFes at 9:29 AM on July 27, 2001

"don't have any more kids" would be my suggestion.
posted by moz at 9:30 AM on July 27, 2001

Sites like these serve as a haven for an anorexic, because if anyone in the real world is giving them advice, they're probably telling them to stop it.

And yet they're probably the only place outside of group therapy where anorexics actually encounter other people saying things that ring true with their own experiences. Even the more serious discussions of eating disorders in the mainstream media are likely to be excessively simplistic or misleading, just because everything complex suffers that way. You'll get your two minutes on the nightly news, then it's Hollywood Extra on how Renee Zellwegger's looking great having got back down to seven stone. Ack.

And that's horrific. You just have to hope beyond hope that there's a route from that kind of support network to those that can frankly, honestly bring people back.
posted by holgate at 9:32 AM on July 27, 2001

"don't have any more kids" would be my suggestion.

Hey, it's not like my wife is squirting 'em out seven at a time :) But thank you, moz, I'll certainly keep that in mind.
posted by UncleFes at 9:41 AM on July 27, 2001

Can someone explain to me why this seems to be mostly an American malady? Or does it happen in other countries, but just isn't covered?
posted by owillis at 9:43 AM on July 27, 2001

You have got to be fucking with me. This is for real?

This doesn't even anger me, it's so fucked up. I found this and thought I'd post it for the benefit of any men thinking or feeling smug. I don't know much about it, though, or the people writing about it. I do know that in either sex, it can damage the internal organs and lead to all sorts of health problems.

There's something so horrid about the idea of a country so swollen with food that people actually grow to hate it.
posted by Ezrael at 9:48 AM on July 27, 2001

fes: no, seriously. i remember a story arc in All in the Family where rob reiner and sally struthers' characters both believe they should not have kids, due to the overpopulation of the world. i mean on one hand you can say "don't have kids" like well duh, but on the other hand, there's some logic to asking yourself the question of whether it's really worth giving birth to someone in this world, affluent though you may be.
posted by moz at 10:00 AM on July 27, 2001

This cutting stuff is pretty interesting, and is fairly disturbing, but we all have this condition, I think it's an extreme case of nail biting, some people enjoy shaving off nails, sometimes down to the parts where it hurts and a lot of inner skin shows, there's dead skin on big toes and such. Some people eat these things. Some people eat boogers and especially enjoy the harder ones.

I don't like blood, if I cut myself I try not to look at the blood. If I do, I have to sit down because my legs weaken. Though if you have a tooth pulled out, the blood tastes salty.

Where is that post on the artificial-leg/body part fetish?
posted by tiaka at 10:12 AM on July 27, 2001

Can someone explain to me why this seems to be mostly an American malady? Or does it happen in other countries, but just isn't covered?
A few months ago, while suffering from insomnia, I watched a doumentary on this very subject on...TLC, I think....anyway, apparently this DOES happen in other countries.... the show presented an interview with several young women from different countries who had the same compulsive feelings toward eating and their own appearance. The show focused on the image problem, however.... they pointed more towards Anorexia being more of a "image problem" within the brain, and the eating disorder part becoming a dependant factor because of the way that the sufferers interpreted their own image in the mirror.
I had always believed Anorexia was something the damn fashion industry had created....I had a sister that went through all of this in High School, and I had always felt that she was simply trying to look like all the women that she saw on television....but maybe there was more to it than that.
posted by bradth27 at 10:28 AM on July 27, 2001

Not to take this post into a place no one wants to go, but I get a charge out of bleeding. It doesn't have to be blood at the Red Cross satisfies the need. But the first time I donated, I noticed it. Getting tattooed also addresses the urge.

I think what I'm saying is, there are ways to address even the most outlandish kinks without really permanently damaging yourself, I would hope.
posted by Ezrael at 10:30 AM on July 27, 2001

Thank you Cosmo and the rest of the rotten fucking media for making this possible.

These sites are truly disturbing, but is it any surprise that these girls feel this way. All the pressure to look good rather than feeling good about yourself has obviously warped their poor minds..

HOW do people get this fucked up?? I have kids, and I'd like to avoid doing to them whatever it was that these kids' parents or whoever did to them to turn them into the splendid examples of total freakishness we see here. So, if anyone knows what not to do, please let me know.

There are plenty of things you can do to help your children feel better about themselves, both for how they look and what they do/are interested in. Encourage them to be interested in and feel good about their appearance, but don't go overboard and emphasize it so much that can become obsessed with it. Don't make it seem important to you that they work to become beautiful, but rather that it's important they realize how beautiful they are already.

Help them develop interests in areas that appeal to them, be it sports or music or other areas. Even if you are not personally interested in the areas they are talented or interested in, support their interests and personality.

A lot of this may seem like common sense, but to some parents it isn't. As a parent, you're the best person to encourage and support your child as they grow up. Especially before they get to the rebellious teenager, be someone they can trust and turn to.

I'm sure there are plenty of other things you can do, but these are a few guidelines I thought of at the moment.. :)
posted by valerie at 10:45 AM on July 27, 2001

from the pills section of

...think of it this way: the anorexic is the purest and strongest of all creatures. Anorexia requires discipline and control. If you're using diet pills to control your appetite and cravings, then you're cheating. The true anorexic doesn't need pills to help her keep in control. The true anorexic can do it by herself.

It seems the lack of nutrition that shrivels the brain also produces delusions of grandeur. The social darwinist in me says that these "purest and strongest of all creatures" should be willing to put that claim on the line in sanctioned televised sporting events. The anorexic olympics anyone?
posted by mb01 at 10:48 AM on July 27, 2001

i have two anorexic/bulemic friends. One just got out of a 4 month rehab. One refuses to acknowledge a problem...but the thing is you can tell, there are signs, swollen glands, stomach-acid burned fingers etc...

the friend who is trying to fight it is doing well, but she misses is the one thing in life she could always control--her food. That is what it is about usually, control, making up for horrible, uncontrollable things.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:50 AM on July 27, 2001

I hesitate to ask why your bulimic friend never thought of drinking a liter or two of water before throwing up. (I used to vomit a lot from migraine headaches...I had to develop that trick, or risk losing my esophagus.) Then again, he or she's already destroying herself, so it's probable she wouldn't care about that.

Gah. This is so disturbing. It really does make you wonder about how damaged we all are, and how it manifests itself in different people.
posted by Ezrael at 11:04 AM on July 27, 2001

"HOW do people get this fucked up?? I have kids, and I'd like to avoid doing to them whatever it was that these kids' parents or whoever did to them to turn them into the splendid examples of total freakishness we see here. So, if anyone knows what not to do, please let me know."

It shouldn't be that hard to avoid.

Don't fuck your own kids, and don't let anyone else fuck them, either. That is a huge one - a lot of obsessive control type behaviour comes from childhood sexual assault.

Don't spend their childhoods praising your daughters for being pretty and your sons for being smart. If you can, avoid praising your daughters in an excessive manner for passive behaviour - ie, when you are telling your friends about how great your kids are, in front of your kids, find something fabulous your daughter has done other than sit quietly, play quietly, and keep her clothes neat.

Don't encourage thinking in your daughters about food as an enemy. Don't walk around constantly complaining about your own weight, make jokes about fat people, or in any way teach your kids to equate fat with the loss of control, or see normal sized women as fat.

Keep them out of activities that encourage girls to be as skinny as possible and as beautiful as possible, yet still call themselves sports - gymnastics, ice skating, synchro, ballet, tennis, etc.
posted by kristin at 11:15 AM on July 27, 2001 [1 favorite]

go kristin.

EXACTLY. the girls i know are products of the homes they grew up in...not anything else.

i don't know. that would make sense, but purging is usually very quick, impulsive, is just something you do. You eat dinner, you go to the restroom and purge. No one knows. Maybe drinking a liter or two of water would be too much prep time?
posted by th3ph17 at 11:25 AM on July 27, 2001

Oh yeah, this is beautiful.

This reminds me a bit of that thread we had some time back about people who deliberately wanted to become amputees. A disturbing article but oddly fascinating when you consider how our brain works and, sometimes, doesn't work. Is it so different than thinking that your feet or hands are too big or that you should have been born with a straighter nose?

Is it all about social constructs or is there something more fundamentally wrong with the wiring? A combination?
posted by amanda at 11:42 AM on July 27, 2001

Tennis is hardly a sport that encourages skinnyness, especially not considering today's power game. Venus and Serena, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati or even former number one Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario are far from thin. The only person in WTA's top ten right now who can't be described as muscular is Justine Henin, and she's a) only 19 and b) probably going to bulk up some more to provide better competition against Venus Williams. Is there any high publicity women's sport that encourages fitness more than tennis at the moment?
posted by lia at 11:47 AM on July 27, 2001

The most disturbing thing about running MetaFilter was for the past year and a half, the most popular search terms people reached this site with were either "pro anorexia" or "anorexia pictures" (probably all due to that thread in May of last year). Although it was in the top ten in April and May of this year, it no longer shows up at all in June, which could be a bad thing since people searching those terms could see what a group of outsiders' reactions were to it.

(btw, great post Kristin, I linked it on the sidebar)
posted by mathowie at 11:48 AM on July 27, 2001

Kristin, I take issue with some of your comments.

Girls should certainly be praised for their accomplishments, but at the same time, to be fair, being "smart" is usually no more something earned or accomplished than being beautiful ... it is a product of genetics and your family environment, which is usually also the case with physical attractiveness (genetics, plus the way the family eats, the amount of physical activity the family engages in, the value put on sports, etc.)

I would also say that clothes and beauty things are part of the natural joy of being (and raising) a girl (at least as I've observed it) in a way that simply doesn't characterize the lives of boys. To take that away from girls and their moms would simply be cruel, and would have no real purpose.

As for your points on sports: Gymnastics, ice skating, and ballet are aesthetic activities as much as they are sports, if not more -- and as such it makes sense for them to have certain ideal body types. There are many women who naturally have the right body types for these activities, and there are many perfectly healthy women who do not. A woman who is healthy but not lithe simply isn't qualified to be a classical ballet dancer or figure skater regardless of her determination or talent, any more than a ordinary looking man, regardless of dramatic skills, is qualified to be a matinee-idol actor.

Tennis, on the other hand, is a sport which very serious women competitors are rarely skinny but also rarely heavy. The nature of training and the power in the game dictates some serious body mass, but makes it pretty difficult to have any kind of build-up of body fat.

The one exception on the heavy side I can think (Lindsay Davenport) brings to bear a massive physical size advantage (her height) and also pays a very large price -- notice how much better Lindsay usually performs when she's at the low end of her weight range, and her suspectibility to injuries.

Girls who are heavier have a wide range of sports in which they can participate and frequently excel -- weightlifting, field events, softball, etc.
posted by MattD at 11:50 AM on July 27, 2001

lia, I spent a few years in Lindsay Davenport's hometown, back when she was still in high school and fast becoming a pro tennis star, and she got a lot of shit even in the local press for her size. She was a frequent top 5 finsiher, and I would often hear how "maybe if she trimmed down a bit, she could finally grab a win and a #1 spot." Female tennis stars that aren't built like models are a new thing.
posted by mathowie at 11:52 AM on July 27, 2001

What about Billy Jean King or Martina Navratilova? I don’t want to steer to far away from the important main topic of this thread, but I also do not think that tennis belongs in that category.
posted by mmm at 11:59 AM on July 27, 2001

Some sports favor folks w/ particular body types, but this is clearly not the only factor in determining success in a sport. And further more, if you're encouraging your daughter to take up a sport at which she's likely to be competitive at a national level, I think you might want to consider your motivation. If being a competitive athlete is what she's interested in, go for it. If it's what you're interested in you might want to consider doing some training yourself.

Just a plug for competitive swimming -- requires a high level of fitness, tremendous skill, and doesn't depend on low body fat content to win. Women in particular seem to excel at long distance swimming. Although I don't know how to find time to train for 24 hrs of continuos swimming while attending high school.
posted by daver at 12:14 PM on July 27, 2001

Forwarded for Rochelle:

While appearance is a big part of anorexia, what's really key to anorexia and bulimia is *control*. Girls at puberty and early adulthood often feel out of control of their lives...and particularly out of control of their own bodies, which are changing rapidly into a body that requires not only more effort than they're used to, but is a symbol for a lot of other responsibilities. That changing body doesn't reflect a changing *self*, and that's very scary for a lot of girls, who suddenly find themselves signifying things they don't know how to deal with.

Often anorexia is a way to stop growing up, to exert ultimate control over one's body. Unclefes asked about how to prevent this...possibly one of the ways is to be aware that your child will feel out of control, and will want to exert control over elements of her life.

That while teens seem to be longing for adulthood, it's not an easy road for most. Most self-multilation practices underline this same process...cutters use external pain to cope with emotional pain.

And, as a side note: anorexia is a very very old phenemon...there's lots of evidence for women in medieval Europe using anorexic methods for spiritual reaons (Holy Feast and Holy Fast, Caroline Walker Bynum). We can't blame cosmo entirely. Blame the history of the world.
posted by valerie at 1:02 PM on July 27, 2001

A blanket statement that certain physical activities encourage kids to be skinny is a bit unfair and counterproductive. Exercise is a pretty good thing, and if there's a sport that your child enjoys, it should be encouraged. True - hardcore competitive gymnastics, dance and other programs can be harmful for those who don't have bodies that match the sport. And, their portrayal in the media (especially gymnastics) is counterproductive when it comes to promoting healthy attitudes about size. But excelling in a sport is not the only reason to participate and not all programs are about creating superstars. My daughter takes gymnastics because she enjoys the tumbling running and jumping. We purposely went out of our way to select a program where the leaders were not trying to ready kids for the Olympics, but, rather, taught kids to tumble, run and jump and have fun doing it. At the recent end of season show, there were all these teachers and students of all different body types tumbling, running, jumping and balancing and having a lot of fun doing it. Don't keep your kids out of activities that they enjoy - keep them out of bad programs.
posted by dchase at 1:15 PM on July 27, 2001

How are these sites any better than those that encourage people to not control their weight? Remember, overeating kills far more people than undereating...
posted by Ptrin at 2:17 PM on July 27, 2001

It shouldn't be that hard to avoid.

Don't fuck your own kids, and don't let anyone else fuck them, either. That is a huge one - a lot of obsessive control type behaviour comes from childhood sexual assault.

It doesn't always come out in this manner, though. In my case, as we're all probably aware by now, it manifests as sheer rage.

I think it would be a good idea to praise all behavior that seems smart. Smart should be way, way, way more popular than it is now. People who are smart, male and female, are encouraged to act dumb, because they'll never find love or be popular or whatever idiotic idea is used to cudgel them into suppressing themselves.

As for body's an idea. Whatever your children happen to look like, as long as it isn't grossly unhealthy, accept it.
posted by Ezrael at 2:18 PM on July 27, 2001

valerie, that reminds me of a quotation from Adam Phillips about adolescence: he said that it marked the point at which individuals began relating to their own bodies as objects, not quite integrated with the self:

The adolescent's body -- and it is part of the adolescent project to inhabit and be inhabited by the body -- can be experienced in its new-found sexuality as an object, and an object that is manifestly outside magical control . . .
posted by holgate at 2:21 PM on July 27, 2001

> Girls should certainly be praised for their
> accomplishments, but at the same time, to be fair,
> being "smart" is usually no more something earned or
> accomplished than being beautiful ... it is a product of
> genetics and your family environment,

...the most significant part of which is the family habit of consciously using whatever smarts you were born with rather than letting them wither. I was very happy when my daughter (8 at the time) picked up the Sherlock Holmes stories and started reading them, because it gave me a chance to underline, italicize and boldface for her the thing Holmes says so often about bumbling old Dr. Watson. ("Your problem, Watson, is that you see but you do not observe.") By the time she was 8.5 she was explaining to me (in her usual forceful manner) exactly what that means.
posted by jfuller at 2:52 PM on July 27, 2001

In terms of whether anorexia is an American phenonmenon: it certainly exists in other countries and cultures but often seems not to be recognized as such. For example, I know that anorexia is quickly becoming a huge problem in Japan among girls and women, but it is not yet seen as a "problem" by society. Many people don't know what to call it yet and don't seem to understand the seriousness of it--that it is a physical as well as psychological disease and not just a "phase" a person is going through. It's really very disturbing.
posted by mariko at 2:53 PM on July 27, 2001

...think of it this way: the anorexic is the purest and strongest of all creatures. Anorexia requires discipline and control. . . .

This is what anorexia comes down to, ultimately. I'm very close to a longtime anorexic who has to be monitored to make sure she gets enough water and sleep as well as food; her quest is no longer to become a perfect human but to become something better and stronger than human. I don't get it either. These websites are so sad.
posted by swerve at 2:56 PM on July 27, 2001

Not to complicate things further... but all this talk of sports and exercise has got me thinking about a very close friend who turned her eating disorder into an obsessive fitness and "healthy diet" program (namely "exercise bulemia").

About these sites, I dunno, I'll guess that they need a place where they don't have to feel like they're weird or sick or hear how they're the cause of parental anguish.

I feel for ya, UncleFes, I don't have kids yet but one thing I'd like to work on is being as comfortable with who I am before I do. Kids learn a LOT by example.

I think the biggest thing to teach kids is self confidence. Control is a BIG issue in households. Help kids learn to think for themselves, support their decisions, encourage their uniqueness, make them feel like they can accomplish anything in the world they want to...
posted by spandex at 3:15 PM on July 27, 2001

to loosely quote george carlin:

'someone wants to starve themselves? fuck em! let em do it!'
posted by jcterminal at 4:18 PM on July 27, 2001

What a horrible thing to say.
posted by Marquis at 6:09 PM on July 27, 2001

Don't worry. Be happy. Have a samwich. Let's go to Wal-Mart and pick out a pretty top. If your father's widget biz has a good quarter, we can wallpaper your room. Don't be so gloomy. If you play your cards right, you can be as happy as your father and me. Cheer up. If my psoriasis lays quiet, we can go to the beach this summer - if your father can get off work and if his high blood pressure stays under control. There's some Must See TV on tonight. We can eat a bag of Cheetos. Life is good. Don't worry, be happy.

Feel good about yourself, Feel good about life. You are a unique and wonderful human being, just like your mother. No, no - now stop that - you're not supposed to think about it - happiness is faith-based. Do what your father and I do - now repeat after me - Don't Worry, Be Happy. Have a samwich.
posted by Opus Dark at 7:14 PM on July 27, 2001

So, people who are overweight are beautiful, and people who have a serious medical problem are considered disgusting?

"Ew, you have AIDS, that's disgusting!"

How is this an enlightened, PC response?
posted by Ptrin at 7:24 PM on July 27, 2001

This almost qualifies as yet another stupid-parent story. Being anorexic as a teenager, while still living at home, requires an immense amount of deceit and camoflauge. It requires constant lies -- "I had dinner at a friend's. Of course I ate lunch." If you're a reasonably attentive parent, you should notice that your daughter never eats. You should notice that she's wearing sweatshirts and jeans in July, to hide herself from you (and also because many anorexics describe a feeling that they're "always cold", probably due to a total lack of body fat). If you pay attention to your children, hopefully they'll never develop these kind of disorders in the first place...but if they do, hopefully you'll notice before they manage to irrevocably harm themselves.
posted by Alixana at 7:26 PM on July 27, 2001

On the one hand, there are millions of people in the world who would love to eat something, anything.

On the other, there are a good number of people in the richest countries in the world who can't stand the thought of eating.

The solution is simple. Population swap.
posted by kindall at 7:35 PM on July 27, 2001

I'm married to someone who has fought with anorexia/bulimia since she was ten (she's now thirty-four, and we are still dealing with it). The reasons for it are not simple, and there is no easy way to "cure" an anorexic or bulimic.

A few points:

Sports/Activities: My wife took ballet from a raging asshole who berated 10-year-old girls for being overweight. The same behavior is common in kids' sports, especially when there are high stakes (school titles, tons of money being paid by "stage" parents).

Why shouldn't the chubby kids get to play? Who says kids have to perform these activities at the level of professionals? If only the kids with the "correct physiques" got to participate in figure skating and ballet, why not extend that out to other activities. Fat kids shouldn't be in scouts; camping and hiking require strength and a good cardio-vascular system. Short kids shouldn't play basketball because they'll never slam dunk like Mike. Tall kids shouldn't learn to race horses because they'll never be competitive jockeys.

<sarcasm>Hey, how about a list of kids' activities and the appropriate height, weight, and agility indexes for them? That would be helpful for all the parents. Can somebody get right on that so we know what our kids are allowed to do?</sarcasm>

That kind of attitude that will lead a kid to an eating disorder. MattD, can you understand that? A little girl wants to be a ballerina, but she's a little shorter than the other girls, and a pound or two heavier, so she figures, "I'll force myself into the correct body!"

Parents: Many people with eating disorders have cited "lack of attention" as a cause. My wife had to ask to be taken to the hospital when she was thirteen because her parents were too busy with the rest of a highly dysfunctional family (older siblings whose misbehavior had legal ramifications). So yes, ideally, an attentive parent will notice that something is wrong, but sometimes the problem is the inattentive parent who wouldn't notice it anyway.

Children model behavior. You see it in alcoholic families, abusive families, and religious families. Sometimes it's good, sometimes not. Before you react with disgust to the fat person at the grocery store, think about who's listening. Before you make a joke about the amount of food somebody's eating, think about who's listening.

Control: This is also listed as a common cause for EDs. Kids are told repeatedly what to do and when and how to do it. If they don't have the tools to dispute or discuss those instructions, they may look for something else to control. I kept my room a mess and wore jeans with holes in the knees. My wife starved herself and made herself throw up to the point that she had to be hospitalized.

These sites: I can't even begin to tell you how sad and angry these sites make me. I didn't know they existed. I can tell you that an anorexic/bulimic who brags about the disorder is terribly, terribly messed up, but it's all about control. "I have taken control of my body, and there's nothing you can do about it." It's very similar to a teenager who knows and believes that smoking is deadly, yet continues with the behavior. (I did that, too.)

Helping folks with EDs: You can't force them to do anything. That can often make it worse. The problem with trying to help is that sometimes it's not as simple as telling someone they don't look fat. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is barely understood, and sometimes has elements of Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, sometimes has elements of depression, and sometimes has elements of addiction.

If you know someone who has an eating disorder, and you want to help, or if you don't think you know enough about eating disorders, start here:

Something Fishy

Be prepared to give the person a lot of love and don't expect it to go away. Ever. You might get lucky. I actually do know some women who danced around the edges of eating disorders and once they regained a normal weight, they never looked back. But I also know women (my experience just happens to be with women; men have EDs, too) who will never, ever, ever not have an eating disorder. It is not something to take lightly and hope it will go away. It's always there and it's a matter of learning to control it.

Thanks for reading.
posted by mccreath at 7:00 PM on July 30, 2001

I used to have anorexia and I was obsessive about visiting these sites. There are even German fetish sites which feature drug-addicted anorectics posing in various angles, lighting *just so* to best show off the dips between ribs and bumps of the spinal chords. So I'm not shocked and outraged by these sites as much as I am languid and saddened.

I even made my own pro-anorexia site, but never posted it on the web. I fealt too guilty, like "how dare I?" However, just the act of creating the site allowed me to indulge in my obsession.
posted by Modem Ovary at 7:46 AM on September 21, 2001

Is this problem mostly prevalent in America or is it very much an international issue is what I'd like to find out.

I would tend to think the problem is mostly in America, but anyone may correct me if I'm wrong...
posted by spidre at 8:58 PM on October 10, 2001

The problem is international, I think. However, I notice mostly Brits and Americans posting on support boards.
posted by Modem Ovary at 1:11 PM on October 26, 2001

The problem is international, I think. However, I notice mostly Brits and Americans posting on support boards.
posted by Modem Ovary at 1:11 PM on October 26, 2001

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