Sites lessen eating disorders’ importance

Brenna McNamara

Eating disorders are commonly viewed as a petty and superficial disease partly due to our culture’s obsession with weight and glorification of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate Olsen and Nicole Richie who receive US Weekly covers the instant they lose more weight. At their root, true disorders are a tragic addiction, one in which the person probably isn’t suffering just to look amazing in a cocktail dress.

The Internet is now a place where disorders have become a trend, not a disease, as it continuously idolizes the skinniest.

Sites like Xanga provide girls the opportunity to vent their feelings about eating into a blog, something that may seem admirable as a place to allow girls to relate to others; but too many of the sites provide fuel for halfway healthy girls to develop a disorder.

Xanga has become a site containing records of calories, daily weight, tips, fasting contests and what the bloggers call “thinspiration.” Girls find comfort in the opportunity to create an account no one will know about except fellow eating disorder bloggers. They take on creative names such as “BoneMachine,” “AnotherFadingSilhouette” or “SkeletonKey” in order to escape into their problems.

Terms “ana” and “mia,” anorexia and bulimia, are referred to like people. “Me and Mia,” a song by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, serves as their anthem with lyrics like “fighting for the smallest goal, to get a little self-control.”

Journals that document meals may be popular for dieters, but they are taken to the extreme on these sites. Not only is every calorie documented, but sometimes every bite and daily weight down to decimals and exactly how many calories one must burn during workouts in order to cancel out calories eaten. Girls strive for an average of 100-200 calories per day.

Joining “blogrings” with specific guidelines, community contests push girls to lose even more weight. For example, 0-50 calories per day is 25 points, 500 and up is 0, burning over 500 calories is 30 points. The girl with the most points at the end of about three weeks wins.

“Thinspiration,” consists of pictures of gaunt models whose legs are about six inches apart, tips on how to throw up and eloquent journalling of their dedication to the disease.

These sites originally could have been positive in helping girls treat disorders, but they have become an outlet that simply perpetuates them adding salt to the wounds, and quite frankly, it’s disgusting. I wouldn’t be surprised if this so-called supportive community would be proud of a fellow member who was hospitalized.

Most girls who truly suffer know that the disease tears up a person so much that he or she would never wish it upon anyone else. If they don’t know this, they should. Anorexia and bulimia are perceived as selfish and petty because of reasons like this.

These sites ask for a 14-year-old girl to stumble upon these beautifully designed pages and become fascinated. Soon she will start losing her hair and have depression, bad teeth and bones just because a group of girls thought these sites were the only way to find a community to help them through.

Brenna McNamara is a freshman pre-journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].