An agressive campaign to shut down pro-ana blogs has been taking place in the popular Israeli portal Israblog. Pro-ana refers to the promotion or support of anorexia as a lifestyle choice. Many pro-ana organizations state that they exist mainly to give anorexics a place to turn to discuss their illness in a non-judgmental environment.
There have been numerous online conversation for and against banning of these sites. Ilana, a representative of the Israeli portal, responded to the petition calling to close down blogs that encourage anorexia. Below is a translation of her response:
Israblog is a network of blogs created to provide every person with the means to express themselves as long as it abides by the country's laws. Our motto, ‘life is here’, refers to all aspects of life, even the more hurtful sides can be expressed here. Any person can own a blog through our system, even if their self perception is problematic or if their body fat percentage is lower than the norm.
The second, and more important reason, is that we do not believe that erasing blogs will have a positive effect. On the contrary, it may be damaging. We realize that there exist other blogging platforms which erase this type of content, however we strongly believe that if we act in a similar manner, we will simply pass this ‘burning hot potato’ onwards without actually making positive change.
We agree that these blogs are problematic, but they also represent a true call for help. And it is best that this call will be heard here, in Israblog, a place where there are attentive listeners and arms ready to reach out and help, rather than a lonely, underground or extreme space.
One must remember that it is not possible to help someone with eating disorders by shutting her mouth. It is possible to help by providing an opposing voice, anti-anorectic, anti-bolemic.
This is precisely why we contact the psychologist Liran Rogev, from the Shahaf organization, who created the blog winning over eating disorders. In this blog, Liran describes ways to cope with eating disorders from his experience as a professional in the field. He tries to engage in supportive dialogue with those suffering from this complex issue, and suggests alternative methods of dealing.
In addition, we are looking for other ways to integrate other professionals who could consult, advise and support our bloggers. However the greatest force to support and make a difference is in your hands. The best thing about Israblog, which is always heart-warming, is these connections of concern, support and friendship made here between bloggers.
We ask you to sharpen your critique over western culture which idolizes the skinny, and point out these social messages, hidden or visible, which relate a person's value, especially women, to their looks and weight. You can enter pro-ana blogs and leave comments. Don't answer simply by saying “c'mon, what are you doing…” or “don't you know that bones are NOT sexy?!”. Comments of this type cause detachment and anger. Liran posted a list of things to remember when formulating anti-anorectic responses in pro-ana blogs. Amongst all his recommendations, we want to emphasize the last – “try to make a true connection – do not criticize or be judgmental. Otherwise, the pro-ana blogger will only reach out to other people with eating disorders, something that can certainly feed this disorder and lead to a further deterioration in their health”. In other words – be friends, real friends, so that those suffering from eating disorders will not seek out only other pro-ana friends.