Destre posed a challenge to myself and Sinistre; we want to articulate between us a point of contention on the issue of pro-ana and pro-mia groups; the issues raised here can apply to other notions; particularly the circulation of terrorist websites, or, promoting the idea of pro-paedophile values (which was a problem during the late 20thC). Sometimes we find the same questions coming up in new ways. The recent phenomenon of the ‘pro-ana’ (and later pro-mia) movement is one such expression of these age old issues.
Ana and mia on the net
Pro-ana, and pro-mia sites are websites that promote eating disorders. The referring terms of ‘ana’ and ‘mia’ are to give human-sounding (and female) names, a personal face to this those conditions of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and, to some extent, EDNOS cases (eating disorders not otherwise specified). Sufferers of eating disorders are allowed to come together and give tips on how to be thin, and perpetuate the norm that thin is beautiful.
One of the ideas associated with pro-ana and pro-mia groups is that ‘anorexia’ and ‘bulimia’ should not be seen as medical categories; which, following the good company of Foucault, Goffman, and the interactionist tradition ensures a pretty unhelpful life for those who are engaging in these behaviours; they are fundamentally loaded terms, and are negative from the start; much like terms used to denote sexual assault.
Recoding ‘anorexia’ to ‘ana’, and ‘bulimia’ to ‘mia’ shifts from medical condition to lifestyle choice.
Motivations to condemn ‘ana’ and ‘mia’
- These groups provide information and techniques to infom people of more aggressive behaviours for anorexia and bulimia. Teaching people, as such, how to lose weight as fast as possible; or how to hide it and general ‘do’s and dont’s’.
- These groups glorify thinness. Perpetuating the very thing in culture that not only aggrivates this issue, they promote the norm that harms them.
- With the exception of some countries making initiatives (France on the fashion industry, other countries banning certain internet sites); the internet is not policed; anyone with a curiosity can learn about it, and further, foster attitudes of those tendencies; where a more policed environment like the community of peoples in real life, may curb those who may be slightly inclined away. Anyone, particularly the very young, may be able to find these groups with ease.
- These groups do not foster the attitude of avoiding these behaviours, but either pose ambivalence or promotion of it.