Our parents, friends and classmates help us get through the nitty-gritty of college life. It’s these support systems that push people from wellness into darkness. But in today’s culture, support comes in various outlets – and mostly through social media. Who knew that one hashtag could push your friend over the edge?
So let’s take a look at what’s trending on your news feed. Pro-ana (pro-anorexia) is an online community that promotes the practice of anorexia in order to achieve “the perfect body”. #ProAna is found in various social media outlets such as Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter.
“It’s so visually present in social media and it’s so in your face,” says senior Torri Singer. “People will fall back into old habits because they see it in their face, especially websites like Instagram because it is so visual.”
We live in a visual age, social media controls how we interact with each other but it does not block images that produce harmful behaviors.
If you type in pro-ana on one of the social media outlets above you are bombarded with dark images encouraging others to starve themselves. Exploring deeper into the pro-ana online community, you will find tips and anorexia encouragement from people across the globe.
Some pro-ana tips we found are listed but not limited to the following below:
- Bring your dinner upstairs that way you can flush and throw away what you can.
- If you are hungry, go clean a toilette bowl. It will make you sick and keep your mind off of food.
- Remember that Ana is the center of your life.
- Ice makes a great meal supplement.
Who does this affect?
Everyone. Everyone is susceptible to eating disorders. While college girls are more active on social media, they are at heightened risk of developing or relapsing into an eating disorder.
Why is this a problem?
Eating disorders have been a huge problem for some time. Now that people have such a large support system encouraging them to engage in dangerous practices, their ability to seek proper treatment decreases.
Outside of a negative support group, pro-ana practices can lead to hair loss, bitter nail, depression, anemia, fatigue and death.
So be a positive influence in your friend’s lives. Like we said before, it’s our support systems that get us through the nitty-gritty of college. Be sure to encourage smart eating habits among your social groups, because we’re #ProHealth.
Photo by Gabrielle Mannino