Friday, April 06, 2012

Speaking out Against Pro-ana & Pro-mia Sites

     During her speech at the MGH Harris Center’s 15th Annual Public Forum at Harvard University this Monday, Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani called for help to raise eating disorder awareness. Her top request for the audience was to sign the Vogue Italia petition against pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites. With over 300,000 of these blogs polluting the Internet and the minds of anorexia and bulimia victims worldwide, Sozzani is starting her movement against them. These destructive sites promote starving oneself and provide “thinspiration” images and tips to achieve an unhealthy goal weight. These sorts of “pro-ana” and “pro-mia” sites are contributing to the rising number of eating disorders in young men and women today. Sozzani has called for bloggers to designate posts toward raising awareness for eating disorders and advocating authentic, healthy beauty.
     Pro-ana and pro-mia sites are harmful to all of their visitors. Franca Sozzani addressed during her speech at Harvard that it’s nearly impossible to track down all of the sites’ authors and contributors because there are so many, but instead of removing them from the Internet, she’s created a movement to outnumber them. “If they have 300,000, I’ll have 500,000,” Sozzani told the audience in Harvard University’s Memorial Church on Monday night, “We’re not creating a Vogue community, that means nothing. Everyone must become involved.” She has requested that bloggers support young people suffering from anorexia and bulimia by promoting alternative ways to look and feel healthy and to provide practical advice for those suffering. Instead of images of scary-skinny models and dangerous tips on how to maintain an unhealthy, unattainable weight, bloggers taking part in the “Your blogs against ana and mia” movement are writing to provide support and help victims of eating disorders recognize their bodies’ natural beauty.
     The forum, which is held by MGH’s Harris Center for Eating Disorders and the center’s Dr. David Herzog, stresses the importance of health in beauty. Alongside Franca Sozzani was supermodel Doutzen Kroes and media mogul Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post. With passion for the cause and personal stories that will give any audience goosebumps, these women are taking a stand against pro-ana and pro-mia sites. With their support and the support of their fans, many bloggers will be inspired help to outnumber the dangerous sites that are distorting the minds of young people. Creating awareness will lead to a reduction of the number of eating disorders and a wider acceptance of distinct aesthetics, rather than the one, sickly thin look the fashion industry showcases.
     So as a blogger and an attendee of the Harris Center forum for the past three years, I’m here to say that I’m against pro-ana and pro-mia blogs and websites. Not only do they promote unhealthy lifestyles, but they all downplay the severity of eating disorders. Not only do the disorders cause a person to lose weight, but a scarce intake of food will affect all body systems. Dangerous dieting tips are brushed off as if the writers are just trying to encourage eating healthy when it’s just the opposite. After hearing about the massive number of these sites after the forum, I did my research and I was horrified with the content I came across. Images of emaciated bodies deemed as  “perfect “ and “accomplished” didn’t sit right with me. As a seventeen year old, I know how gullible and naive teenage girls and boys can be, so it scared me to think that so many people view are able to this as acceptable and follow the sites’ lethal guidelines. One look at a “thinspiration” website like the ones I saw could influence somebody so easily, and that’s why they’re such a threat to young people in society. They can’t necessarily be stopped, as Franca Sozzani reminded the audience at the Harris Center forum on Monday, but they certainly can be left in the dust behind blogs that promote healthy living.
     There are so many alternative ways to looking and feeling beautiful than to starve or overwork yourself. Each person is different, and with that diversity comes beauty. The dictionary may define beauty as a noun meaning, “the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations,” but I think beauty is anything authentic. If you’re original and you let it shine through, that’s absolutely beautiful. For example, behind every painting, there’s a story. All paintings may not fit your definition of beautiful at first, but when the exigence of the piece and the artist’s story behind it become known, all of a sudden what you’re looking at transforms into a piece of art, rather than just a senseless picture. Just like that art that seemed like a cluster at first, a person’s creativity can fuel their diversity and beauty, but without that authenticity, a person is just another face in the crowd; redundancy won’t get you anywhere. Attaining society’s perception of beauty through unnatural ways isn’t practical or beautiful, it’s dangerous.
     Welcome to “anti-ana and mia” Fridays on zmalfashion.blogspot.com. Here, you will find news on the latest attacks on pro-ana and pro-mia sites, and ways to find your beauty if you’re searching for it. Beauty lies in diversity. There are so many negative resources that will tell you differently, but you must have your body’s best interest in mind when defining what “beautiful” means to you.
Sign the Vogue Italia petition against pro-ana and pro-mia sites here.
Support the cause and let your voice be heard.
You can't reach maximum beauty at minimum size.
xx, ZM

3 comments:

  1. This article touched home for me. Recently I have been researching the influence of attractiveness in female opportunities. It is proven that women who are considered more attractive are given more opportunities and higher earnings within their lifetime. I discovered a company called facialmap and I think it is absolutely transforming. Anyone who feels unfairly treated by the phenotypic stereotypes of our society should look at facialmap.com

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  2. Pro-Mia websites have helped me so much, I really hope no one takes them down! It's MY body... why do you people care? I should be able to be free and do what I please. I just want to be skinny. In fact I just ate an entire 1.5 quart of chocolate ice cream which I'm going to purge out when I'm done typing this. xo

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  3. I am a little disappointed that anyone is promoting censorship! It is one thing to push a support group or create fundraising for education and treatment and quite another to simply try to ban something that offends our senses.

    I am offended by sites promoting overweight people such as "BBW" sites or "Plus size" sites as we all know the dangers of being overweight. Where is the crusade against that? (sarcasm)

    In addition we should ban sites, shows and other media that promote other dangerous acts like smoking, drinking, eating fatty foods, skydiving, race care driving, skateboarding, fighting and so on, I think you get the point!

    What I would like to see for once is someone take 30 seconds to read some of these sites. Certainly some do support the condition known as anorexia, but others do not. Anorexia is a mindset and MOST people do understand when to stop and they have a realistic body image.

    I would like to add that just because it is now front and center that it does not mean it is better or worse than before the internet, it is simply seen more now.

    Finally why not tell both sides of the story, there are sites out there that do give helpful advise while trying to steer people away from the extremes that anorexics go through, just take a look at proana.info and then tell me what is dangerous or offensive about that site!

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