Admirers of anorexia also have websites in Finland
France is preparing a law that would make “public urging to extreme thinness” illegal. The law would apply to fashion magazines and advertisers as well.
First and foremost, though, the lawmakers want to take aim at the Internet sites putting a positive spin on anorexia. Within the Pro Ano/mia movement, anorexia and bulimia are seen as a lifestyle, not as an illness.
There are also Finnish websites that advocate the famished appearance:
“I wait for tomorrow in horror. I will turn 15 and I will surely be drowned with sweets and all the f-----g cakes.”
“I hate that I weigh so much. I hate the damned scale, I hate the cursed number that my weight starts with, I hate myself.”
With the so-called thinspiration pictures, the discussers urge themselves and others on to become even more bony. Some critical voices take part in the dialogue:
“Some of the thinspiration images have been tampered with. I have seen the original version of many of the photos. One must not believe everything that one sees.”
The problems related to the skinniness forums have not yet prompted a dialogue on the Internet sites of child welfare organisations such as the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare or Save the Children Finland.
“I know that young and also adult women search the Internet for information when aspiring to be thin becomes the most important thing in life. The backing from a community only comes up in passing. People do not want to talk about it”, reckons psychiatrist Maria Muhonen, who has treated individuals with eating disorders.
The anorexic image of the world has a strong hold on many of the patients. Therefore a doctor’s main focus has to be to strengthen the patient’s healthy side, the side that wants to get well. “There is also plenty of support available on the Internet in the fight against anorexia”, Muhonen points out.
Those afflicted with anorexia often have tendencies towards perfectionism. The surrounding culture also plays a role: in addition to the admiration of thinness there is the importance of constant achievement. In puberty the changes in one’s appearance may feel difficult, and various crises within the family may set off the disorder. Anorexia is a sum of many factors. Certain professions and sporting disciplines also call for a slim figure.
Muhonen praises the recent phenomenon where ordinary people have been accepted as models. “It is important to present alternatives. Beauty and looking good can be something else than being underweight.”
”Usually false information is fought against by banning it. A better way would be to spread correct information instead”, says chairman Tapani Tarvainen of Electronic Frontier Finland, an organisation advocating the citizens' electronic rights. Tarvainen wonders how the French plan to remove the admiration of being skinny from the Internet.
“It will be as efficient as banning criminals from using public roads.”
Certain service providers, such as Yahoo, have made an effort to remove from their servers such websites that admire eating disorders.
Previously in HS International Edition:
New study suggests most people recover well from anorexia (1.8.2007)