i think i will make like ana_cosplay so i can advertise in multiple communities
CHICAGO - They call her “Ana.” She is a role model to some, a goddess to others — the subject of drawings, prayers and even a creed.
She tells them what to eat and mocks them when they don’t lose weight. And yet, while she is a very real presence in the lives of many of her followers, she exists only in their minds.
Ana is short for anorexia, and — to the alarm of experts — many who suffer from the potentially fatal eating disorder are part of an underground movement that promotes self-starvation and, in some cases, has an almost cult-like appeal.
Followers include young women and teens who wear red Ana bracelets and offer one another encouraging words of “thinspiration” on Web pages and blogs.
They share tips for shedding pounds and faithfully report their “cw” and “gw” — current weight and goal weight, which often falls into the double digits. They also post pictures of celebrity role models, including teen stars Lindsay Lohan and Mary-Kate Olsen, who last year set aside the acting career and merchandising empire she shares with her twin sister to seek help for her own eating disorder.
“Put on your Ana bracelet and raise your skinny fist in solidarity!” one “pro-Ana” blogger wrote shortly after Olsen entered treatment.
The movement has flourished on the Web and eating disorder experts say that, despite attempts to limit Ana’s online presence, it has now grown to include followers — many of them young — in many parts of the world.
No one knows just how many of the estimated 8 million to 11 million Americans afflicted with eating disorders have been influenced by the pro-Ana movement. But experts fear its reach is fairly wide. A preliminary survey of teens who’ve been diagnosed with eating disorders at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, for instance, found that 40 percent had visited Web sites that promote eating disorders.
“The more they feel like we — ’the others’ — are trying to shut them down, the more united they stand,” says Alison Tarlow, a licensed psychologist and supervisor of clinical training at the Renfrew Center in Coconut Creek, Fla., a residential facility that focuses on eating disorders.
Experts say the Ana movement also plays on the tendency people with eating disorders have toward “all or nothing thinking.”
“When they do something, they tend to pursue it to the fullest extent. In that respect, Ana may almost become a religion for them,” says Carmen Mikhail, director of the eating disorders clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
She and others point to the “Ana creed,” a litany of beliefs about control and starvation, that appears on many Web sites and blogs. At least one site encourages followers to make a vow to Ana and sign it in blood.