Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists called for “urgent action” to protect online youth vulnerable to pro-eating-disorder Web sites, the BBC reports. It says the number of such sites has “soared with the growth of social networking,” and the government’s year-old Child Internet Safety Council should expand its definition of harmful sites to include those promoting anorexia (pro-ana) and bulimia (pro-mia). The BBC cited one eating-disorder charity as saying it welcomes the Royal College’s position but banning pro-ED sites doesn’t get to the root of the problem.
This past June, Liz Jones, a columnist for the Daily Mail in the UK, wrote about her 40-year battle with anorexia and a normal-eating experiment she conducted for three weeks. It’s just one person’s story but maybe sheds some light: “I found the gnawing, tight knot that is always in my stomach – fear of life, work, boys, social interaction – was quietened when I starved it…. I might not have been good at anything else – relationships, sport, conversation – but I have been really good at being thin…. That’s the thing about being a borderline anorexic: it makes you feel superior, clean, morally unimpeachable. It isn’t a whole lot of fun, endlessly disappointing friends who invite you for lunch. My spartan lifestyle … has kept me tiny, but it has also isolated me…. I’d rather be thin than happy or healthy.” [See also my 2007 interview with “Hannah” about her anorexic friend and “Sarah’s Death at 19 Left Her Family Struggling to Understand the Power of an Eating Disorder” in the Washington Post last spring.]