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Despite bans, pro-eating disorder pages are still finding their way to social media sites

Heather Rudow March 29, 2012

(Photo:Wikimedia Commons)

Social media sites have the ability to empower us, to make us feel depressed and also to perpetuate eating disorders among users. “Pro-ana” (pro-anorexia) or “pro-mia” (pro-bulimia) blogs on websites such as Tumblr and Pinterest are popular ways for people suffering from these eating disorders to band together and make these typically private disorders a community activity. And, as CBS News reports, despite social media sites outright banning blogs with this type of content, these pages are still cropping up.

Andrea Vazzana, clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychiatry at New York University, told CBS that even though evidence shows that looking even once at pro-ana or pro-mia pages can raise a person’s level of body dissatisfaction, they’re not likely to cause an eating disorder. However, for those are already suffering from an eating disorder, it is a deadly combination.

“A lot of times people with eating disorders use these sites as a means of seeking support,” Vazzana said.

Tumblr tried to rectify the situation on its site in February by announcing the adoption of a no “self-harm” policy and by pledging to shut down promoting eating disorders. Pinterest reacted similarly in March, CBS reports, by updating its terms of use to include banning material that “creates a risk of harm, emotional distress, death disability, disfigurement or physical or mental illness to any person.”

However, a quick tag search of either of these sites shows that it is going to take more than policy adoptions to rid these social networking sites of these pages once and for all.

“They are still finding a way with all these regulations,” Vazzana said. “Even with all the regulations, Tumblr and Pinterest may try, but they’ll get the sites back running under a different ISP.”

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Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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