Updated: Wednesday, 26th February 2020 @ 11:54am

'Forget diets, get an eating disorder’: Shocking pro-anorexia websites urging young Mancunians to starve

'Forget diets, get an eating disorder’: Shocking pro-anorexia websites urging young Mancunians to starve

By Danielle Wainwright

Hundreds of vulnerable teenage men and women in Greater Manchester are using advice forums to drastically lose weight by eating dangerously low amounts.

This comes after hospital admissions for eating disorders in England rose by 16% between June 2011 and June 2012 according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Pro-anorexia websites condemn curvy women for their crimes against so-called thin-spiration and claim that food is an evil indulgence against what they perceive as beauty.

The sites act as comfort blankets for young girls who are depressed about their weight and worryingly search for extreme methods to copy size zero models.

Greater Manchester psychological clinic Oakwood House, deal with anorexia and the pro-anorexia sites that trap so many young people desperate for the body of a size-zero model.

An Oakwood House spokesman said: “Thin-spiration [followers] may adopt an aggressive and personalised approach, with statements such as, ‘if you eat now and throw away what you are working for I will hate you’.

“These statements reflect and magnify the self-directed hostility felt by people with eating disorders, so the website actually represents the authoritarian, cruel voice that many people with eating disorders experience as telling them not to eat.”

Sarah, 23,* an ex pro-anorexic forum user from Hale, explained how dangerous it is being sucked into an anorexic lifestyle and how sites can seriously damage the health and body of a young girl.

“I used to spend hours looking through all the tips,” she said.

“People on there say they support eating disorders, but it's not support for them to get better. It's really manipulating and you can be drawn into it so easily.

“It's like a bunch of vulnerable teenagers thinking that they fit in somewhere.

"I'm ashamed to say that I may have persuaded people that they shouldn't eat or that they should exercise a bit more, but I was just copying everyone else.”

With such sites easily accessible through a search engine or social media, new forums pop-up every day and it’s impossible to block them from young eyes.

Julie*, 23, from Holland has kept a pro-anorexia blog since 2007 and has almost 1000 followers who sign up for her daily starvation techniques.

As a self-styled 'anorexic veteran', she regularly chastises readers for their eating habits.

A recent post gave particularly dangerous advice to readers, stating: “Being thin and not eating are signs of true will power and success, and if you aren't thin, you aren't attractive.”

When MM contacted the blogger who continued to give weight-loss advice and was critical of those who didn't follow her beliefs.

Shockingly she said: “They are not making you better, they are making you fatter.”

Psychology graduate at Manchester Metropolitan University, Jennifer Lee Ellidge, argues in her 2011 paper Dying to be thin, a thematic analysis of Pro-Ana communities that the media has placed unrealistic expectations on women and young girls.

She said: “The media has a large influence on a woman’s body image and it creates an unrealistic level of perfection and beauty which women feel inclined to adhere to.

“The media promote weight obsession and thinness more strongly than the pro-ana community do given the large coverage of diets, weight loss and size zero celebrity culture.”

For more information about eating disorders, and how to get help visit www.oakwoodhouse.co.uk

* Identity changed on request of the source

Photo courtesy of emilyvalenza via Flickr, with thanks

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.