2_Pro-Ana(2) - 92 Cybermedical bodies rooms where users can...

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Unformatted text preview: 92 Cybermedical bodies rooms where users can exchange messages and interact with others. DiarieS, biographies and stories have also become a common feature of these forumS, with website owners and visitors posting reports on their calorie intake and writ— ing about their experiences relating to their eating disorders, including hospitalization, recovery, and so on. The content of these Internet sites varies greatly: one can find support from others experiencing an eating disorder or, more controversially, garner information and advice on the way to develop an eating disorder or conceal it from others. Some sites adopt more obvious Pro- Ana identities within their titles (for examples, see Anagurls live journal, anorexic beauty, anorexic nation, Go Ana, Love it to death, worship in vain, starving for perfection, wasting away on the web, dying to be thin). Concerns have been raised about the potentially harmful interactions that may take place in these environments, including online competitions to become the best anorexic. On some websites, tips and tricks relating to the ‘practice’ of anorexia (see Warin 2004; Rich 2006) are shared between anorexics. Other stud- ies have revealed that these environments are also used ‘for dispensing information related to nutrition, and techniques to lose or gain weight” (Chesley er a1. 2003: 123), ways to hide or avoid food, and methods to conceal anorexia from significant others. In addition, many of them contain what are called ‘thinspira- tion’ galleries that show pictures of emaciated young women, or famously thin models and actresses (see Ferreday 2003). A handful of recent studies have highlighted the reaction from media and other agencies to these networks. For example, Ferreday (2003: 288) argues that the popular press tend to report ‘disgust’ over the portrayal of the anorexic body and ‘by producing a physical sensation of revulsion, the anorexic body breaks down the distinction between the healthy subject and the abject other’ (ibid.). Many of these websites focus on anorexia rather than bulimia, or use Pro-Ana to represent both anorexia and bulimia. Henceforth, we shall therefore refer to these websites collectively as ‘Pro—Ana’. The Pro—Ana movement is a particularly challenging case for medical ethics and raises a number of issues that connect with broader discussions within cyberfeminist bioethics. The collective removal of these websites from the Internet was partly in response to concerns voiced by the media (Ferreday 2003: 288), medical communities, and families and friends of those with eating disor~ ders. In 2001, ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), an American eating disorder advocacy group, called for servers to take down what were considered particularly harmful Pro-Ana sites. Subsequently, some Internet servers stopped hosting these websites. Pro-Ana material continued to be made available online through other means, and the development of Web 2.0 has since provided opportunities for Pro—Ana members to communicate in more sophisticated and unregulated ways, including, for example, the use of video diaries. As Pollack (2003: 246—247) reports, there are now a number of groups oppos- ing these websites, including S.C.a.R.E.D. (Support, Concern, and Resources for Eating Disorders) and S.P.A.P. (Stopping Pro-Anorexia Promotion), which have ...
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