The Negative Influences of Society, Media, and "Pro-Ana" | Teen Ink

The Negative Influences of Society, Media, and "Pro-Ana"

May 1, 2015
By AshleySD BRONZE, Campbell, California
AshleySD BRONZE, Campbell, California
1 article 1 photo 90 comments

Fifty percent of the population has an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic disease among adolescents. Of all anorexia sufferers, twenty percent will experience premature death caused by potassium and magnesium imbalances, heart complications, kidney and liver disease, and even suicidal death. These statistics are nerve-racking, yet unfortunately true. Anorexia nervosa is a mental disorder that is ravaging the youth of this country because of the way that the world has developed. With society’s expectations and the media, young people become pressured to be thinner and thinner. Recently however, a new internet trend is giving some adolescents the impression that Anorexia is not a disease, but a lifestyle that guides and improves them. Anorexia Nervosa is one of the most problematic and controversial issues facing the world today, for it has deeper roots in society than most people understand and can affect anybody.
    Although society is not entirely to blame for the spread of Anorexia, it still has developed in a way that pushes youths towards thinking that being skinny is being beautiful. However, it was not always like this. Back in ancient times, it was considered attractive to be obese, for it showed that one was wealthy enough to afford plentiful food. But now, in a world where food is readily available to most of the world’s population, this belief is no longer a trend. Today, being skinny is considered necessary to being a “true” beauty by society’s standards. Because of this fact, both girls and boys strive to be skinny by any means possible. There is nothing wrong with trying to become thinner, but it is commonly taken too far and done for the wrong reasons through rigorous exercise and extreme dieting. Young people with Anorexia feel that they are “too fat” for exercise and that starving is the only way to become thin.
    A specific part of society that particularly influences adolescents is the examples set by celebrities, particularly models. Youths that see models in magazines and on television think that there is something wrong with themselves because they are not as skinny as them. The adolescents become increasingly pressured to become skinnier, prompting them to turn to Anorexia as a “solution” to make themselves look beautiful. However, what they don’t realize or simply don’t acknowledge is that the celebrities are often themselves suffering from an eating disorder. For example, Nana Karagianni was a model and a television presenter before she became afflicted with Anorexia nervosa. She is now completely unrecognizable and is not much larger than a skeleton. Celebrities fall victim to Anorexia and other eating disorders because of society’s expectations. As role models to aspiring people, they are under constant pressure to remain thin and attractive by any means possible.
    Though the influence from society and celebrities may seem like a lot, that’s only half of it. A new trend on the internet has assisted youths to continue their quest for extreme skinniness. This trend is known as Pro-Ana blogs, “Ana” being a pet name for Anorexia nervosa. On these blogs, there are thousands of tips for being “truly Ana” and “staying strong.” Young people look to these blogs for inspiration and justification for their disorder, as well as a community in which they can feel welcome and accepted. The most disgusting part of these blogs is that the authors talk about Anorexia as something that gives people “comfort, control, and beauty.” They impress upon the reader that Anorexia is a great thing and should not be labeled as a disease. However, these blogs have not gone unnoticed by professionals. An Anorexia counselor, Janice Saunders, succeeded in having the sites taken down by internet service providers. Unfortunately, the Pro-Ana pages reappeared in a short time. This process repeated itself several times only to have them resurface under slightly altered names or camouflaged by coded keywords.
    Until society decides that it is ready for change, Anorexia nervosa will continue to affect millions of people all over the world. Young people will continue to be influenced by society, media, and Pro-Ana blogs to resort to Anorexia to “enhance” their already flawless looks. People should not be pressured into thinking that they have to suffer to be beautiful.


The author's comments:

I have been assisting teenagers with self harm, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts/tendencies for a while now. I hope this educates people a bit more about just how serious of a problem Anorexia is.


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