According to a report by Optenet Research, the number of Pro-Anorexia and Pro-Bulemia websites on the internet increased 470% between 2006 and 2007. If you don't know what a Pro-Ana website is, google it. But reader beware! It can get a bit disturbing.
It is important to note that there has been a substantial increase in the number of personal websites, such as blogs, so it makes sense that the material floating around on the internet will change along with that.
Somehow though, I find this remarkable increase more expected than surprising.
What I find obvious about this situation is that Pro-Ana sites have become a mainstream phenomenon. Now, needless to say I am not the target market for Pro-Ana sites, but I have heard of them. In the last year or two, I have heard of them quite often in fact. One example is a teen drama on TV I saw (the specific title of the show escapes me) wherein one of the characters started a Pro-Ana website and another follows along with her, and struggles to overcome her worship of this Pro-Ana girl in order to get well herself. I have read about Pro-Ana sites in newspapers, teen magazines, and on websites. It's one of those situations where once you've heard of it, it puts the idea in your head. I know this because, before ever hearing of such a thing, I'd never even have thought they were real. The day I heard of them, I googled. Imagine you are a person struggling with your weight and wishing to be rail thin. You have never heard of such thing as a Pro-Ana site before. Well, now you have. What do you think will happen?
The unfortunate thing is that while media talks poorly of these websites, and any celebrity or media persona will talk about them in dismay, the message the media feeds back to young girls, who are particularily affected by them, is this:
90210 (the new class...or whatever) starring:
I'm not saying that anorexia is all the media's fault. Or 90210's either. I'm not blaming these poor girls. (I'm not even really saying these girls are anorexic. I'm just saying they are awfly thin and maybe could, I dunno, eat and work out more often?) But I do think that it is high time television showed more real figures. Healthy figures. Ones that are on bodies that are well fed and exercise. Because as insane as it is, subconciously, most women compare themselves to the people they see on TV and in magazines. I think with healthier images, women's self image would improve also. Lets be honest - women look up to other women they see on TV or in magazines, and we don't have many healthy female examples in the media to look up to.
It would be nice to see some curves once in a while, so that the aspirational aspect of watching a glamourous nighttime soap such as 90210 is just a little more attainable. Because I don't think we can remove that aspect of media consumption - so if we can't do that, what can we do?
We can show more realistic body types on television. And by 'real' I don't mean actually-skinny-but-in-comparison-to-a-model-"fat". I mean actually real figures. Because actual 'real' figures can be something to aspire to, and in my opinion, it is just healthier to want to have a curvier ass. That's something that you can work on, while eating or exercising.
It seems when I canvas people I know, they find curvy women more attractive anyhow. Kim Kardashian is inspiring to many because she actually has a bust, waist and hips, and shows them off. And looks great doing it. I mean, it is possible to look great no matter what your shape.
What I'm getting at, is I think it's time for this unrealistic "waif" body shape to go out of style, and curves to come back in. The 90's are over for pete's sake. Lets let heroin-chic die, shall we?
The entire online trend report is available here.