Super Scary Stats

fear1Sometimes I feel like I have two personalities, even on my blog.

On the one hand, I started this blog to overcome disordered eating issues that arose after successful weight loss the healthy way (eating less, moving more)… And on the other hand, I’m trying to lose some weight I’ve gained, while keep my disordered eating behaviors in check. You can see how this could easily be viewed as having split personas.

I blog about both parts of my persona because they are related to one another, and because they feed off one another, for better or for worse.

Fortunately, I’ve been doing really well re: said disordered eating behaviors — no midnight eating, no chewing and spitting, and no emotional eating –especially since journaling on Sparkpeople. It’s like something clicked last week, and I know it’s not necessarily a permanent click, but in the meantime, it feels darn good.

But after reading a recent blog post by a favorite blogger of mine, it hit me that sometimes it seems with even the best of intentions, for every one step forward we as individuals might take, our society ends up a step back.

Case in point: MamaV over at MamaVision posted some super scary stats about the underground pro-ana movement.

I urge you to take a look at these stats she shares, the most frightening of all being that pro-ana Web sites have increased 470% from 2006 to 2007, according to Optenet.

Now, I admitted freely that until I met MamaV back in October at a Chicago blogger meet-and-greet that I had never heard the word “pro-ana,” and didn’t realize the proliferation of social networking sites that serve as “safe havens” for pro-ana groups.

I was truly, truly in the dark. It’s a world I don’t understand, and have trouble conceptualizing. I know it exists, but it isn’t part of my everyday world … yet it hurts me to read about or see the “thinspo” images.

Then I watched THIN, the HBO documentary.

And now seeing these latest stats, it’s just really hard to sit back and not do anything about this.

I have a HELP tab on my blog, and visitors do click it (this is something I care a great deal about)… but how can I know how many people are, truly, getting help for their ED, or are just clicking on it? How can I know who is looking for a loved one, or a friend, or themselves?

The truth is, I can’t track those things, even with the best analytics tools around.

I do hope that when people come to my site, it’s for inspiration and a place to feel welcome, a community of others who understand what these struggles are like. I don’t claim to know or understand the extremes (bulimia or anorexia) but I hope my readers know that I want to help, in whatever way I can.

As I said from the get-go of blogging, my goals are two-fold: to help myself on the road to recovery … and to help others along the way.

I truly just wish stuff like this wasn’t out there for public consumption, but it is. It can really mess with a mind, especially someone prone to peer pressure … but I do believe there are ways to get help, if someone is ready for it.

How about you? Has visiting a blog or Web site helped inspire you to seek help?(I don’t mean my blog specifically– I’m asking more generally, but if mine has helped you, of course, I’d love to know)

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10 thoughts on “Super Scary Stats

  1. I always wonder very similiar things. Thanks for posting that mama V site-she’s amazing, isn’t she? I think many people with EDs read blogs….and go on websites…. they do not necessarily comment or act upon their desires….but they are doing it to feed something in them. I guess it’s up to them if they want to take it to the next step and face their demons head on. I think your blog is great-you really get the message out that although defeating disordered eating is tough, it’s still worth it.

  2. Thanks, Lee. She’s wonderful in person, too. Totally opened my eyes. I wish there was a way to track this kind of information … how many seek help after reading a blog/getting info online. you’re right though, as I said too, they need to be ready and that’s usually the hardest step. Thank you so much … yours too, my dear!!

  3. I do seek blogs as a way to help myself. A lot of bloggers, including you, deal with the same every day issues that I deal with so it is very helpful to see how everyone copes with this. The positive words and thoughts of other bloggers also help me stay positive and never give up.

  4. Thanks Missy — and your dinner at Restaurant Week looked a-ma-zing. (esp dessert!) I miss DC’s Restaurant Week (you’re in NY, right?) — such a fun time!

  5. I wonder too, with my own blog, because I do follow a way of eating that may provide conveniently rigid parameters under which people with eating disorders might somehow feel justified in their approach. Even though the whole point of the way I eat is the opposite of an eating disorder (aiming to get optimal nutrition so I can be super healthy and live a long time) for many people the line is very fuzzy. Food for thought (no pun intended).

  6. I’ve heard about these pro-ana sites, but I did not know the stats were so scary. 470% increase – that is wild…and very sad.

    Reading blogs has helped me that there are others out there who struggle with the exact same issues I have. I have no close friends who think like me, but there are so many bloggers who do. It’s a major comfort for me to know I’m not alone!

  7. Rachel there have been questions about that — are food blogs (even nutritional blogs) fueling the fire…but I think it all depends from where the reader is coming. If you’re a foodie, you like looking at images of food, cooking, etc. But some of these women might not be seeing it in the same light — perhaps as forbidden food they’d never touch. It’s a fine line and it’s sad b/c what you’re aiming to do is AWESOME … but everything has its pros/cons.

    Like the pro-ana sites are supposed to be a “safe haven” yet they seem to encourage “wannarexics” — so wild to me, but I’ve read about this stuff. Keep doing what you’re doing though; your audience loves it!!

    Totally scary, Heather!! Exactly … lots of bloggers share my feelings and it’s a way to be part of a community … pretty incredible stuff. You’re def not alone!

  8. You know, it’s funny how much our society promotes a really black and white view of health. There are news articles in abundance that talk about “healthy foods” vs. “unhealthy foods”, and people will debate the finer points of nutrition while completely overlooking the bigger picture. It drives me batty! And I can totally see how the pro-Ana movement would get a foothold in our society, with such an enormous dichotomy in our view of health.

    You know who I love? Nigella Lawson. She writes cookbooks, she’s got cooking shows from time to time. She’s voluptuous, gorgeous….and British. With that Britishness comes a distinct lack of all the things that make Americans so neurotic about foot. In her writing, you can tell she takes a joy in eating. She doesn’t divorce HEALTH from PLEASURE – nor does she soften the edges of classic recipes (alfredo, chocolate cake, baked ham) to make them more “healthy.”

    Because there’s no such thing as one healthy food or one supremely unhealthy, evil food. There’s only life. Balance. A lifestyle based on exclusion is always going to be an unsatisfying one. Why do we have to focus on what we shouldn’t eat?

    What if we all just gave up our collective American control issues and learned to enjoy eating again? What if we put the same love into preparing *delicious* vegetables as we put into scrutinizing the nutritional value of a plant, which vegetables were better at saving us from cancer, etc? If vegetables tasted *good*, wouldn’t we naturally eat more of them? (Like the French – hello paradox?) And if we ate more vegetables, wouldn’t we be healthier?

    What if we all strove for balance instead of berating ourselves for what we were or weren’t doing “right”? What if nothing were forbidden, and you never approached a certain food with dread just because it was “good for you”?

    I realize anorexia and other eating disorders are about control, and have less to do with food than with feelings. But I wonder if the media doesn’t exacerbate the problem by declaring some foods more morally acceptable than others.

    Because when it comes down to it, every food has value. Even if it’s just for pleasure.

  9. Lana, I love what you said…every word of it. Food has value — even if it’s just for pleasure. Love it. Wish I’d read this BEFORE last night’s incident!

    MiFit … tell me about it … scary stuff!

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