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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Calling For a Crackdown on Pro-Anorexia Web Sites

This may surprise some of you, but there are actually "pro-anorexia" (pro-ana) and "pro-bulimia" (pro-mia) web sites on the Internet attracting a significant number of teenage girls, especially those vulnerable to peer pressure and at risk for eating disorders.

These sites all share the perspective that anorexia and bulimia are "lifestyle choices" rather than mental and physical health problems, and provide a place for girls to compete with others for who can be the "skinniest."

Mental health professionals around the world are trying to control these sites but are running up against issues of free speech. Last year in France, there was a proposal to ban these sites outright, but it failed to become a law, and in the Netherlands, there was a proposal to have a warning about the content pop up as people clicked through the site, but could not be enforced. There is also a more realistic proposal to require that digital photos identify when they have been retouched - to help young women realize how unrealistic the images of women are in the magazine.

Every chance you have, please identify unrealistic pictures for teens and encourage "wellness" instead of size!

Photo by klaireebearr
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.