BY: NADIA ZAIDI
At a time when hate speech and propaganda are igniting civil and world conflict, filtering what we read online is of paramount importance.
Currently, there are underground websites that promote eating disorders, and they should be criminalized.
The websites are referred to as “pro-ana”(short for anorexia) and are flooded with tips on how to achieve unhealthy weight levels. Young girls offer each other tricks on how to lose weight for those who are enlisted in treatment programs.
Popular posts on these websites also tell users how to successfully purge, as well as provide recipes for appetite suppressants. They are also full of laxative recipes, which work to hasten the metabolic process and facilitate quick weight loss.
These websites are under no pretence. They blatantly and boastfully encourage eating disorders. I’m no psychiatrist, but it’s clear that young engagers suffer from complex mental disorders that are being exploited for the gain of irresponsible, reprehensible administrators.
Girls are encouraged to introduce themselves by listing their current weight, along with their ultimate weight goals. They are also encouraged to share what they like about their eating disorders.
In 2015, France criminalized websites that encouraged extreme weight loss and other countries should follow suit.
Out of all the psychiatric disorders out there, eating disorders have the highest number of mortality rates.
The fact that websites like this exist is unfathomable, and simply blows my mind. It is just as toxic as telling a criminal where to find a loaded gun.
These websites almost read satirical to someone without an eating disorder because their absurdity is almost incomprehensible.
But outlawing these websites is a contentious issue, in part because it risks isolating sufferers of this mental illness. To combat the spread of pro anorexia websites, Instagram has banned hashtags like proana and thinspo.
Ironically, this only facilitated the increase of eating disorder hastags using different spelling variations.
Individuals who don’t view anorexia and eating disorders as vices engage these websites. And it’s certainly not for people who feel like victims to this mental disorder. It is for people who believe that anorexia is a way of life.
Perhaps the complexity of who is considered welcomed to these websites reflects the complexity of eating disorders altogether.
Pro-anorexia websites are geared towards people who already suffer from the disorder, and whom want to be triggered and are looking for advice, support and tips to become better at being anorexic.
It’s also for people who do not choose to inlist in a recovery program because they believe that this is a way of life.
Many of the pro-ana websites convey a culture of superiority and self-control. It is a doctrine that users abide by.
Servers like Yahoo do not allow certain sites to function, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t exist. In fact, many run under the guise of diet sites.
They are almost packaged as lifestyles of achievement and sources of threat to normal people who lack self-control and dedication to achieve stark results.
To anyone who thinks that pro-anorexia websites are freedom of speech, you are probabaly right. But speech – free or otherwise – can either help or hurt.