The disease that?s also a cure for loneliness
By JACKIE CAHILL Work Experience Student
LIFE-threatening cults: Ana and Mia.
Ana (for anorexia) and Mia (for bulimia) are dangerous new 'movements' sweeping Australia. It is shrouded in secrecy, has its own coded language and cult-like following.
The pro-Ana/Mia cult is internet-based and is a place where self-identified anorexics and bulimics come together to meet in chatrooms and discuss their condition.
They seek encouraging words such as 'thinspiration' and advice to help them become 'better' anorexics or bulimics.
Members of pro-Ana and Mia do not see anorexia and bulimia as eating disorders, but instead as a 'lifestyle choice' which they are proud of.
These sites advocate for extreme weight loss by showing a display of disturbing pictures and strict 'commandments' on how to be skinny.
The websites attract legitimate and 'wannabe' an- orexics who claim it's their choice to continue down the path of starvation and self-destruction.
Such sites, along with media representation, push girls into eating disorders by promoting them as something glamourous when in reality they are serious psychological problems that can take several years to recover from.
Doctors see these cults as extremely dangerous to current and potential anorexics and bulimics as it jeapordises their chances of recovery and masks the reality that these are both life-threatening diseases. These sites symbolise the shocking choice not to seek proper treatment.
Followers of these proanorexic movements use the terms Ana and Mia as if they are actual people, so as to hide their disease from their friends and family. They use Ana and Mia as a cure for loneliness with these pretend girls becoming their best friends.
Members of Ana and Mia use colour-coded bracelets to identify each other and as a constant reminder of the 'rules' their movement enforces upon them.
Ashleigh Synnott, from the Eating Disorder Foundation, says that the website's line 'anorexia and bulimia are not eating disorders but lifestyle choices' is false.
She said that eating disorders were never a choice, the 'lifestyle' was so painful and beyond their control that it was not a life at all.
According to Ashleigh, people who set up and run these sites are disturbed.
The Ana and Mia websites are extremely dangerous and many people are currently fighting to have the sites removed from the internet but there is only so much that they can do.
If you know someone using these pro-anorexic and bulimic sites they may be in serious trouble and in need of professional help.
For information on help available talk to your GP or contact the Bulimia/ Anorexia Hotline: 1800 227 4785