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Pro-ana, it's coming.

 Because of posts in twitter someone says that they want to be slim to the point where their stockings are too loose, Pro-ana means a group of people who lose weight by extreme methods and get a lot of attention. Some student have attempted Pro-ana to be famous in class. Also another student fasted for 3 days to be slim to the point where her bones were exposed. Through this article, we can learn about the ways that people practice Pro-ana and what effects it has on the mind and the body. In conclusion, we will see society’s responses to Pro-ana we think about how pro-ana should treated.

 

What is Pro-ana?

 Pro-ana is an abbreviation of pro-anorexia. It is neologism that defines both people who attempt anorexia on purpose and their diets. Society calls people attempting Pro-ana the Pro-ana tribe, but generally they are referred to as Pro-ana That is, Pro-ana means people who eat as little as anorexic patients, just to be slim. Dieters and Pro-anas both aim to lose weight. Dieter tries to lose weight in healthy ways like doing exercising. But Pro-anas do so by extreme methods. Pro-anas vomits foods or chews foods then spit it out immediately so as to not eat. They get used to fasting for a certain period of time by drinking only water or coffee. Moreover they also take anorectic agents or laxatives. Pro-anas have a special way to measure weight. They think that the result of subtracting 120 or 125 from their height must be weight to be skinny. For example, according to their methods of calculation, if someone whose height is 172_cm want to be slim, he or she should be 52_kg, which is 120 less than 172. Most Pro-anas make twitter accounts and share tips, fasting times and k-pop idols’ photos to stimulate each other. Several years ago, Pro-anas did their extreme diet in secret. But recently people have seen Pro-anas through social media with a hash tag, it has come to public view A significant problem is that most teens try to do Pro-ana.

 According to newspaper ‘LE MONDE diplomatique’, miss A, high school student is a first-year Pro-ana. She felt a sense of kinship with other Pro-anas and started the practice. Miss A made her own rules to be skinny to the point where her bones were exposed. The first rule is to eat less than 100 calories a day. The second rule is to exercise for an hour a day. The third rule is to drink as much as water as possible. The last rule is vomiting if she eats a lot of food. She continued to be underweight by abiding by her own Pro-ana rules. But that rules are too harsh for her to live an ordinary life. She became so weak due to Pro-ana rules so she can’t study and sleep. She gave up her ordinary life and is depressed because she was at a loss. In middle school, miss A was bullied because she was fat, but as she lost weight in high school, she was able to make friends. She said that owing to this experience, she can’t help doing Pro-ana to be loved by others. Pro-ana is also a problem in other countries. The number of students who try Pro-ana is increasing in England. According to BBC, in 2020, 25% of all anorexics in the UK are under the age of 18. Some people in the UK submitted petition to regulate using hash tag related Pro-ana.

 

Effects of Pro-ana on mind and body.

 Pro-anas don’t think they are diseased. This is because they practice Pro-ana voluntarily. But mental health professionals classify Pro-ana as anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder. According to analysis by professionals, a case of eating disorder including anorexia is an obsession formed by body dissatisfaction and body image distortion. Professionals say that most patients with eating disorder suffer from depression, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and avoidant personality disorder. Anorexia nervosa is prone to recurrence. A patient with anorexia nervosa can’t intake enough essential nutrients because they have an extreme limit on their food. Hence, their neurotransmitter for brain growth and activity isn’t formed so their brain can’t operate normally. That is, patient with anorexia nervosa including Pro-ana is difficult to understand and judge properly.

 Pro-ana eats like a bird or fasts frequently. In this case, weight is lost by losing muscle, not fat. If muscle loss continues, it can cause frailty, systemic disease and high rates of fatality. Human being should intake essential nutrients by eating the appropriate amount of calories per day. If people try and continue Pro-ana, essential nutrients will not be supplied to the body, so irrational body aging accelerates. Anorexia patients including Pro-ana often die from cardiopathy. They may suffer a heart attack because of arrhythmia and die from cardiac insufficiency. If teenagers do Pro-ana, some troubles may occur related to secondary sexual characteristics and fatality is higher than others who do not practice Pro-ana. It is very likely that long-term underweight teenagers will be exposed to infection and brain disease. Furthermore, they are more likely to have osteoporosis and female may develop sterility and irregular menstruation.

 

Causes of Pro-ana.

 There are three typical causes of Pro-ana. First of all is social media. Most people use social media and tend to be absorbed by it. Also social media users often get at lookism posts. Through social media, people see the slim figures of celebrities and others’ photos that have been retouched to excess and envy them. Users write comments that compliment slim figure photos whether they are retouched or not. This creates a social culture idea that a slim body is the most beautiful. Being exposed to a social atmosphere that prefers slim figures through social media, someone compare their own body with others and try to do Pro-ana to be skinny. People who start Pro-ana motivated by social media make an account to record their Pro-ana life and communicate with other Pro-ana. They write Pro-ana oriented posts and upload photos of celebrities to stimulate themselves. These social media contents attract other people to do Pro-ana. In short, people learn to crave having a skinny body due to social media and they incite other to do Pro-ana through social media. It is a vicious circle.

 

 The second cause is a distorted body image means the thoughts, awareness and attitudes about height, weight and body type. People can have a positive body image if they recognize and appreciate body as it is. But if they distort it, people have a negative body image, NEDA, an American eating disorders association, determined that if people distort their face and body, they are likely to suffer from depression, sense of isolation and low self-esteem because they think there are flaws in their body. In fact, social media causes people to distort their body perception and have a negative body image. Becoming intensified, people may have eating disorder. Social media and body image distortion are related. If society wants to solve all-pervading body image distortion leading to eating disorder like Pro-ana, it should rectify wrong aesthetic consciousness spread on social media and mass media.  

 

 The last cause of Pro-ana is taking anorectic agents. In South Korea, anorectic agents are available only by prescription from a doctor. But because some doctors don’t check prescription correctly, Pro-ana can get anorectic agents easily. If pro-ana can’t get a prescription, they pay more for anorectic agents through illegal distribution. Currently, illegal distribution for anorectic agents is so all-pervading that many Pro-ana take anorectic agents to lose weight. An ingredient of anorectic agents is analogue of amphetamine a psychoactive drug. If people abuse anorectic agents, they may suffer from mental disease because dopamine is over-secreted so the central nervous system is broken-down. Also they may have visual hallucination and auditory hallucination. People who take anorectic agents for a long time are likely to suffer from interruption of menstruation, depression and self-injury impulse. Pro-anas continue to buy and take anorectic agents because it helps them suppress their appetite although they treat their mind and body. South Korea is where people can buy anorectic agents easily, and it is a one explanation of why Pro-ana is increasing. If South Korea officially classifies Pro-ana as an eating disorder and wants to prevent Pro-ana, it should reinforce prescription standard of anorectic agents and despise brokers who distribute anorectic agents illegally.

 

Reaction towards Pro-ana

 Specialists judge Pro-ana as eating disorder, a disease. The reason specialists want to prevent Pro-ana is that Pro-anas can suffer and die from various diseases induced by nutritional imbalance. Also they say that there are no drugs that can heal eating disorder perfectly, so Pro-ana should take active and steady treatments. Specialists emphasize that acquaintances around Pro-ana should recommend treatment indirectly to Pro-ana. Some people criticize that Pro-ana, eating disorder is formed by the social culture that prefers skinny body and emphasize lookism. Also they argue that society should not blame Pro-ana blindly and people should try to change wrong social culture. Other citizens say that they can’t understand Pro-ana who lose weight by taking dangerous drugs. Also they criticize people who are motivated to lose weight from looking at celebrities as just being gas lit.

 One opinion suggests that Pro-ana doesn’t need treatments because they do it voluntarily. Pro-ana using twitter say that they can’t understand why other people see Pro-ana as disease and a dangerous problem. As current affairs program broadcasting problems of Pro-ana, most of Pro-ana resisted because living as Pro-ana is voluntary and just a way to lose weight. Some Pro-ana want to heal but can’t go to hospital because there is a perception that Pro-ana is abnormal.

 

 Pro-ana is formed by a social atmosphere that perceives a skinny body as the most beautiful. Pro-anas eat extremely little and accept unlawfulness to get anorectic agent. They suffer from mental and physical disease because of obsession about being skinny. Is it acceptable to classify Pro-ana into the freedom of the individual, even though so many people suffer from disease by doing Pro-ana? Maybe, body talk like ‘you look pretty after losing weight’ that we say unconsciously might have caused people to do Pro-ana. In South Korea, there is advertisement of plastic surgery even at bus stop. From now on, our society should destroy lookism to rescue people from eating disorders. We have to be conscious of rejecting body talk that intensively compliments or blames people about their bodies. Also people should not retouch their photos excessively and don’t need to compare their own photos with others’. The most important is to realize that I am nice and wonderful person myself even if I’m not skinny to the point where my bones are exposed.

이연수  lys0716@inha.edu

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