Pro Anorexia: History and 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 show that the Number #1 search term is…..


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:

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.

*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.

About mamaV

Former Paris model providing advice for eating disorder sufferers who aspire to be thin, follow the proana lifestyle, and lack self esteem.
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5 Responses to Pro Anorexia: History and Statistics

  1. imaginenameste 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.

  2. 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.

  3. maria 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.

  4. Jackie says:

    Maybe someday little pro-ana girls will read this.

    You want pro-ana? Here you go.
    1. Stand in front of the mirror for HOURS (like 5-6 a day) And tell yoruself how much you hate how you look and how much you wish you would look this way or that way.
    2. STARVE. No, don’t fast one day then eat guilt free. You have to feel bad about everything all the time.
    3. Lose all friends. You can’t have friends, a love life, a sex life, or anything. You have to shun your family. You can’t risk anyone seeing you so vulnerable.
    4. Go nuts. You can’t have an ED and still be sane. You have to obsess over EVERYTHING.
    5. Fall apart. Lose sight of everything you want, stop working towards goals, etc.
    6. Go to the hospital. Get dehydrated, have multiple IVs. Get a potassium drip (it hurts SO bad).
    7. Go to treatment. Refuse to eat, have your parents make them give you a feeding tube. It hurts, and it’s gross. Plus people get all weird around you. Not pleasant.
    8. Go through all the stress of re-feading. It hurts, your emotions get fucked up, and you start to look like shit.

    Any other questions? Feel free to email me.

  5. Alexa says:

    Thanks for linking back to the Pro Ana Privacy blogs — I forgot how you infiltrated what was once a safe community, disguised yourself as one of the members, and stole all these photos from — yes, attention seeking — but vulnerable girls.
    It’s true that nothing is safe on the internet, but it’s also true that you are most likely the only one to go through such lengths to obtain these pictures. And for what? To provide other girls with more “thinspiration”?
    I’m so glad you decided to do an espionage story, sneaking into the forums of unsuspecting girls who ALREADY have self-esteem issues, and exposing their most intimate secret to people who read your board so they can taunt them and tell them it would be better if they just “died from anorexia already”.
    Ever think that Pro Ana gets the most view traffic because these girls are being used for thinspo by others like them?
    I know it would be difficult to sacrifice the pages that get the most traffic, but maybe it’s time to stop triggering the folks in recovery, to stop mortifying the women whose pictures live in infamy because of you, and to stop feeding the pro-ana community with more pictures of their “real girl” ideal.

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