Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pro-Ana on MySpace, YouTube, and the Allure Message Boards?

Fashionista posted about their discovery of a pro-anorexia network that is one of many, many others popping up all over MySpace and YouTube (Parents: looking for another reason to keep a close watch on your kids' internet use?). The piece prompted some heated debate and insightful comments, including this one:

"I hate to say it, because I love fashion, but I think people who say the fashion world isn't partly to blame for these scary ideals are deluded. I am 17 and consider myself to be fairly confident and intelligent, but yes; I do feel inadequate in my size 6 jeans when every successful model or actress in my age group looks like she has an eating disorder..."

The way we see it, Kendall should continue to share her opinions because of her love of fashion, not in spite of it. And we should all listen up. The industry doesn't have any control over the fact that sick and troubled young women are finding each other online, but we do have control over how we respond. These MySpace pages are plastered with photos of working models and actresses (many of whom are admittedly sick and troubled themselves) tagged as "thinspiration." And over on the Allure message boards, Radar reports that girls as young as 12 have posted threads like "Starving Myself" and are trading their extreme diet tips. An Allure rep says they are "taking steps to correct this." Women's and teen mag editors: check your message boards to make sure you don't have a similar situation on your hands.

Clearly, eating disorders are complex illnesses with complex causes--people don't develop anorexia just from looking at pictures of Kate Moss and Nicole Richie. But we're worried about something else. As Kendall points out, even girls who are disturbed by pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia sites admit to being negatively influenced by all this thinspiration talk. They might not have eating disorders, but they're telling us they don't feel good enough, pretty enough, perfect enough.

Is it possible to wipe out this empty thinspiration and replace it with true inspiration? This Fashionista commenter isn't so hopeful:

The fashion/beauty industry and poor body-image/self-esteem will forever exist side-by-side. There's no way around it."
--Bonnie Lass

Really? Can we prove her wrong? We think it's worth a serious effort.

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