Reflections on EDAC-ATAC 2014 Conference

Last week I had the opportunity to attend and present at the Eating Disorders Association of Canada (EDAC-ATAC) Biennial Conference in Vancouver, BC. I was presenting part of my Masters thesis, which felt great. I always love talking to clinicians in the field, and I found that this was a very practical and applied-focused conference.

I sometimes feel like somewhat of an outsider at eating disorders conferences as I am “research only”- I do not have the credentials to counsel or treat individuals with eating disorders. However, I felt quite welcome at this conference. People were quite willing to engage with a relative newbie, in typical Canadian fashion.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed that I was tweeting up a storm. You might also have noticed that I was one of the only people doing so. I learned that this association is relatively new, in its … Continue reading →

Gendering the Pro-Anorexia Paradox: Men in Pro-Ana Spaces

When someone says “pro-ana,” what comes to mind? Likely, given the strong reactions pro-anorexia websites provoke, you may be able to conjure up an image of what would take place in such a forum. Thoughts of “thinspiration,” emaciated and waif-like images, and starving tips likely spring to mind, alongside considerations of the dangers of a community that would encourage behaviors that can be very harmful to health.

I’d venture to say that it is unlikely that you have pictured a man participating in these sites. Given that we know that men get eating disorders too, and that they may feel alienated in their struggles, is it surprising that some might seek out online communities, including pro-ana?

As Tetyana noted in previous posts on pro-ana (here and here), these sites can serve a harm reduction purpose and/or provide a space for sufferers to openly and honestly share their struggles … Continue reading →

Why Banning Pro-Ana is a Bad Idea

Is banning content that is thought to “promote” eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (pro-ana) a good idea? I want to put aside the question of whether the goal is even possible (I would argue that it is not) and focus instead on what might happen if pro-ana content is banned or threatened to be banned from mainstream social networks, blogging platforms, and web hosts.

If you only read mainstream news media, you might think that pro-eating disorder websites are evil communities seeking to lure unsuspecting young adolescents into a world of extreme dieting, lying, and who knows what else, all under the guise of being a “lifestyle.”

Well, as I’ve blogged before, the picture is not so simple:

Ultimately, it seems that the support on offer on pro-ana websites is—for all the scare stories about “purging tips” and users egging one another on with their latest BMIs—little more

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What Really Goes On Inside Pro-Ana Communities? (Maybe They Are Not So Bad After All)

Ambivalence is a great word to describe how many eating disorder patients feel about recovery. Many people that follow my Science of Eating Disorders tumblr run thinspo blogs. But, they follow me, and many probably follow fyoured, which offers pro-recovery advice. Many people might want to recover someday, but they feel they can’t let go of the behaviours now. They are not denying their illness, or that recovery will happen, or that it really IS a disorder, but, right now, recovery is just not an option.

Bear with me for a moment. Suspend your judgements and gut-reactions to “proana/mia.”

Eating disorders are highly stigmatized. Most people don’t understand them. Physicians, nurses, and healthcare staff are often no better than the public. Treatment itself can have negative consequences. In a recent study, “more than half of all nurses and residents (58.2%) thought that ED patients … Continue reading →