Pro Anorexia: History & Web Search Statistics

I am saddened and amazed that no matter what I write about, my web statistics on this blog and my collective body image blog WeAreTheRealDeal.com show that the Number #1 search term is…..

PRO ANA

And variations of Pro Ana as you can see below. WTF? (Of course the beloved Nicole still pops up).

So, since this tells me many proana girls are here, let’s have a chat. It’s been awhile. For those of you that are new, like those I connected with on Twitter recently, here’s the brief history about this blog 2006-present:

Started this blog to talk about how shitty the modeling industry is, and try to knock some sense into the girls chasing the proana dream.

-Got really, really pissed off over ANTM show, and blew my stack on my first youtube video (most asked question about my vlogs? Why am I in my car? Here’s the answer for the curious).

-Proceeded to stalk  emerse myself in the proana online culture to really, really get a true sense of what was happening “out there.” News articles either skimmed the surface or exploited the whole trend, so I wanted to dig in.

-My plan was to educate parents, but the blog itself dictated its path (those of you who are bloggers will understand this, blogs are best when you let them go the way the wind blows).  But I found the site community was mostly girls and young women. Hmm…. I thought. I’ve tapped into something here.

-With that revelation, I instead focused on trying to be a voice of reason for pro ana girls (and women, moms,  TV anchors, teachers …….yes I have been contacted by ALL of the above either for advice, or for requests to pull their picture off my site before they lose their job.

-Plus, I figure; why go after the parents to educate when you are all old enough and smart enough to figure out if you want to live a real life, or go down in proana flames of hell. Right?

-I got fired up, continually wrote posts based on my observation, and to date these two posts get the most traffic (again, not in my plan but reality bites);

Pro Ana Privacy part 1 / Pro Ana Privacy part 2

This  post is read obsessvely, obviously because I posted a bunch of public pictures from ProAna websites and everyone freaked (no I never, ever trolled or faked to be a member to grab images — these were on the public web, unmoderated, and free for the taking).

The lesson? This is the  world wide web kids — you take a picture of yourself in your undies in your bathroom, slap it online for your proana friends to stroke your self-confidence, and BAM–next thing you know some whack job mom blogger has it splashed all over the place).

Internet Suicide

Before Twitter, and still today I guess, Pro Ana Live Journal was the place to be if you wanted to talk about your crisis over eating half an Oreo and three extra celery sticks. PALJ have had all sorts of mods over the years, some completely out of their minds, others teaching the CR lifestyle, and a few with actual good intentions of being a source of “help” for those with anorexia.

But at the end of the day, this shit kills.

Image Credit: http://thekristiproject.webs.com/

Enter Kristi Lanford. A moderator who decided to document the end of her life online. Scary part was and is, many of us watched it happen — live. I never, ever want to experience something like this again. I hope you will read the last moments of her life here, perhaps Kristi will now save a few lives by taking her own. As you will read, Kristi was depressed, drinking, pill popping, and watching Skinny Celebrities as she went off to hopefully a new better place. An online memorial for Kristi was created by her friend “K” and can be viewed here. In K’s words, here is how Kristi’s passing impacted her;

On January 27th, 2007, Kristi took her own life, choosing to document the final moments of her life. There was shock, followed by sadness, followed by anger, followed by guilt, followed by emotions that I never wanted to feel; emotions that I didn’t know existed. There were moments where I beat myself up for not signing online sooner, not calling her just to check up on her, not doing something that could have saved her life. I, like so many others, regret not reaching out to help her more. It takes time to let those feelings go, it takes time to let the death of someone that you love so much go. 

So there you have it – Pro Ana, the lifestyle!*

Somehow, somewhere, I became the resident expert on proanorexia as it pertains to the internet usage, history, sites, language, etc. I’ll take that title. At least I know that while I post triggering thinspo — I also have got you where I want you, and that is listening to one voice — at least one voice that may in fact instead “trigger” your common sense.

My hope is that it saves your life.
-mamaV

*Kristi’s friends have been adamant that she was not “pro ana.” I have a different opinion on where Kristi was in her head, mostly based upon the way she died, so I wanted to point out this important detail out of respect for K and her other friends. 

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14 Responses to Pro Anorexia: History & Web Search Statistics

  1. Aisling says:

    Isn’t that a good thing though that pro ana is your number one search thingy that brings people here because in a way that shows a light at the end of a dark tunnel, maybe something will switch in someones head if they read your blog instead of being exposed to other pro people, your realistic blunt approach can make people disagree or agree with you but it initiates thoughts and whether they like it or not it kicks start a voice to fight against their ed voice, it brings normality into a crazy situation.

    • mamavision says:

      Hi Aisling: Well, that is a positive way to look at it, and I do believe that over the years I have “converted” some!

      For whatever reason, I am drawn to write about proana. I think it is because the entire concept is just so……scary. As you get older, life seems really fragile, and I know these girls are just taking huge risks. But then, who am I to say — I did the same thing when I was a model and I sure didn’t worry about what I was doing to my body.

      Thanks!
      mV

      • Aisling says:

        Well its better to look at the positives then the negatives why be saddened by the fact its your number one search thing when you have the chance to reach the very people you wanted to understand and stop, that and the fact you could have the chance at stopping a child from investigating further into pro sites.

        If you said you were the same do you then do define proana and anorexia as the same thing???

  2. Keri says:

    Is it strange that I do not see pro-ana as scary?

    • mamavision says:

      Hi Keri: It’s not weird, its sad, but its normal. This society is demented — all day long you are bombarded with messages and images that say we must be thin or we are losers. Pro Ana, the lifestyle, is basically a crock. You and I both know that, its a shitty way to live, and no one can survive happily when starving ourselves. And all the thinspiration in the world isn’t going to make it any better.

      So what do you do? I say, explore your path, if it leads to pro ana go and see for yourself how shitty it is because no one can tell you this, you have to experience it for yourself. Hopefully, one day, you’ll look around and what the real world has to offer, seek out friends that aren’t obsesed with what they look like, and find your real place in life.

  3. Co. says:

    So I’ve, unintentionally, been lurking around your blog for quite some time. And by unintentionally, I mean not really unintentional at all. (I keep telling myself that though because I don’t have any desire to agree with or accept your message.) I think I’ve read close to every post and comment thread. I’ve commented anonymously on a few things, but for the most part have just observed. There is something about you that makes me think that you really, actually care.

    I don’t consider myself proana, I never have. But to say I’ve never been to one of those sites (or too many to count) would be a lie. I’ve had an “eating disorder” for almost 4 years. I would be lying if I said I hated it. I don’t. But, everyone around me, hates me for it. That’s why I find myself at proana sites, googling proana etc., and finding you. For some people, those sites may be a place for tricks, tips, and the like. But for others, it may be a place where they can just feel alright. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But before you nail me on this, I get that it’s not a good thing either. Sometimes though, it may be all there is.

    • mamavision says:

      Hi Co.! I am glad you de-lurked.

      I do really care, its going on 4 years of blogging on EDs, so I would be a complete nutcase to do this for no reason! Sometimes I don’t even understand it myself why I care so much….but I think its because people like you come out of nowhere, and make it all real to me. And then I know it matters what I am doing here.

      I understand that sometimes the proana sites are all there is, I totally understand it actually. Kind of a sad state of affairs huh? We have millions of girls going online to learn how to be skinny, and stay skinny….most of them saying “there is no one else I can talk to”

      I don’t get that. Where are the parents? How can they not know? Don’t they notice odd behaviors?

      This just kills me. I wish I could reach out and hug you and say that it is going to be ok, and it will, but it takes effort on your part. Effort to try to find a positive influence. Someone who gives a damn, and cares about things in life that matter — like reading, and writing, and sharing, and being in the moment. And then you have to try to find other outlets for yourself, friends that get the meaning of life and that it is fragile.

      Great to meet you, and I hope you enjoy your holiday!
      Love,
      mV

      • Co. says:

        For me, my father is an alcoholic and could only be more clueless about my life if he weren’t here. My mom has always been very much distracted by my dad’s alcoholism. Growing up she obsessed with making sure I felt loved. It’s really an uncomfortable situation. She has this idea that I’m perfect and literally believes whatever I say. Therefore any odd behaviors, if they were even noticed, I could easily explain away. Generally though, no one noticed. I don’t know if it’s because they didn’t care or I’m really good at saying the right things and pretending everything is okay. I like to think the latter. Now though, I’m kind of out of my parents’ (or rather my mom’s) control. I’m away at college and see them probably 3 months out of the year.

        Long story short, my mom is a positive influence for the most part. But she can never know about this, ever. It would break her heart and I can’t be responsible for that. I’m trying to figure things out right now. I feel like I’m at a point where I can go one of two ways and I’m just not sure. I just can’t remember what it was like before this. Like today, thanksgiving, I have the hardest time remembering a normal Thanksgiving. All I remember is being incredibly anxious on thanksgiving. Then leaving the family to go work out or, in today’s case, purge.

        Talking about my ED is something I am really uncomfortable with. On most days, I won’t even admit I have one. Other days, like today, it’s hard to deny. I’ve had points when I wanted to get better, a point where I sort of did, and even talked to people I trusted (this didn’t turn out so well, really bad idea actually). I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I know I need to talk to someone in order to get better. I know in order to move forward, to get better; it is going to take a lot of effort on my part. I just don’t know that I care enough to put in that effort. In a way giving this up is like failing, like losing a part of me. Which maybe is kind of pathetic.

        I obviously need to figure some stuff out. I’m sure I will, for better or worse. I’m definitely going to keep frequenting your site though and checking out your point of view. Maybe even a little more commenting and less lurking. Ha. :)

        I hope you had a very happy thanksgiving mamaV! xx

  4. FreeEternally says:

    Honestly…I know how you feel about pro-ana. And I can see why. But at the same time, pro-ana websites and people seem to be the only place that will just listen at times. There just isn’t really an alternative.

    I am attempting recovery. I have been for a while. But when I go places that are not pro-ana people don’t listen to me when I say I am scared. they hear, I am not eating and flip. They can’t seem to wrap their head around the fact that there is nowhere to go for treatment nearby and that my insurance is denying me coverage and my family isn’t supportive. They just tell me to try harder or buck up and eat already or stop whining and acting like an angst teenager.

    I don’t go to the sites to learn how to get skinny and/or stay skinny. I already figured that one out. I go to those sites to read other people’s words and know I am not alone when I can’t sleep for one reason or another. I go to those sites to know I am not alone when my friends stop inviting me stuff because they know I don’t have the energy to go along. I like to read that I am not alone on the nights when I am sitting in my room wondering if I should wake up my roommate and go to the ER because my heart hurts but I know I can’t because the ER doesn’t take a 20-year-old woman seriously about this type of thing.

    I know you probably would think all of these as silly reasons to stick around a PA site. But in a community in real life where an ED could get me rejected, kicked out of school, and ostracized…I think it is a better alternative than completely isolating. Especially since there aren’t really any professionals in the area that I could go see to get help from either.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I too have been a lurker on your blog. I think I first stumbled upon it searching for pictures of thin models online. I’ve read about your personal stance on the modeling industry.

    This is going to sound really weird, but the modeling and high fashion industries’ obsession with extreme thinness has actually made me feel better about myself. I’ve always been naturally thin, but during high school when most girls
    were gaining curves, I just couldn’t put on weight no matter what I ate. I live in a part of the country where curviness is the ideal. Friends kept commenting that I was freakishly skinny, boney, frail-looking, etc. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that looking boney and frail was coveted in the high fashion industry.

    No, I don’t think the extremes accepted by the fashion industry are healthy. But I am healthy–thin, but nowhere near emaciated. And the ridiculous ideals of the fashion industry actually helped improve my body image. BTW, my mother weighs less than me, so I guess my weight/body-type is just purely hereditary.

  6. Marie says:

    I find it sad that we live in a society that equates “beauty” with being skinny; I find it even more disheartening that this same society scoffs at those with eating disorders. The sad truth is that so many people with eating disorders feel that they have nowhere else to turn besides pro-ana websites (whether these feelings have a basis in reality is entirely dependent on the person and their individual situation, though I wholeheartedly believe that there is a stigma against having an eating disorder(s) in our society). However, in my experience, I have found that the only thing pro-ana websites are good for is fostering an unhealthy sense of competition (i.e. who can be the skinniest, etc.) among visitors to the websites.

    As a recovered anorexic and current college senior majoring in dietetics, I can tell you with certainty that pro-ana websites offer not benefit whatsoever. I commend you, mamaV, for telling it like it is! An ED is not some froufrou illness. I would never wish what I went through on anybody. If just one person stumbles upon your site while searching for pro-ana sites and hears your message, then that makes all the difference in the world.

  7. Shellhead says:

    So proud of you Mamavision! You are a great girl,(I know from experience)… and think what you are doing here is commendable.

    • mamavision says:

      Is this thee Shellhead?!! I am glad you found me here, and like what I am doing…. I had to find a positive way to channel all my energy on this modeling b.s.

      Hope you are well!
      mamaV
      aka Wadley

  8. imaginenamaste says:

    I’m so glad for your blog. And, honestly, if those pro-ana people stumble upon your blog and see a bit of sense or hope–maybe worth it! I hate hate hate hate those websites.

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