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Instagram still saturated with pro-ana pictures


In a move away from glamorizing eating disorders, social picture-sharing app Instagram banned certain hashtags such as "anorexia" and "thinspo" last year.

But UK eating disorder charity Beat says that the problem is not going away--and that too many vulnerable young women can easily search for "pro-ana" images, upload their own "thinspiration" pictures and gain access to a dangerous community of people who support one another in behaviors like starvation or self-harm. A Beat spokesperson explains:

"It’s worrying that with the powerful medium of social networking and the growing popularity of phone apps such as Instagram, people are able to easily access images that encourage the individual to believe that an eating disorder is a lifestyle choice and to avoid treatment."

Where to draw the line

When Instagram banned certain search terms last year, it helped to remove more than 30,000 "graphic" pictures, but Beat is still concerned with how easy it is to find pro-ana users and photos.

The hashtag "ana" brings up nearly 300,000 results, with everything from quotes about suicide or self-harm to girls with protruding ribs posing in front of the mirror or shots of low-calorie lunches. One haunting image is of a rail-thin teen girl with the caption, "Do it for the bones."

Girls--and sometimes men--who are a part of these pro-ana communities often glorify their weight loss accomplishments and encourage one another to starve. One blogger likened it to being "part of this secret community that most of our family and friends don't have the slightest clue about."

According to Beat, however, social sites should do more to point these women toward recovery resources by "providing acceptance and support throughout society so that these alternative sites are no longer the only refuge a person feels they can seek."

Source: Huffington Post