There’s good news in the interwebs! Last month popular blog hosting service Tumblr announced that blogs that promote self-harm, like eating disorders or suicide will be banned from it’s platform. In addition, the new policy will also affect searches for related tags. Searches for terms like “purging,” “proana,” and “thinspiration,” will now prompt an automatic “PSA-style message” educating the searcher about the dangers of eating disorders. The thing with pro-ana websites is that most girls never even hear about them until they do get banned from blogs or search engines. So what exactly is a pro-ana website?
A pro-ana website is one that promotes anorexia. Some pro-ana sites use the glorified description of being “thinspirational.” Pro-ana and pro-mia (short for “pro-bulimia”) pages give sick girls tips on how to be sicker. They offer ways to resist food, post photos of skeletal women (literally — you can usually see their bones), and serve as a constant reminder that their readers can always be thinner — and that thinner is better. Pro-ana websites are dangerous, period. They are designed by sick people to not only spread their sickness, but worsen it in themselves and others. 20% of people diagnosed with long-term anorexia will die from the effects of the disease. Pro-ana websites can prolong and worsen anorexia and can be lethal.
If you were addicted to a drug like crystal meth and you go online because you’re looking to get clean, and click on a link you’d think was a site for rehabilitation, but end up on a site that features pictures of meth and new ways to get high from it, that’s dangerous! It’s no different from a thinspiration blog.
There’s a small backlash from users saying that Tumblr is taking away their freedom of speech, but what they fail to realize is that in those “terms of service” a lot of us don’t actually read include clauses that allow Tumblr to do things like this. From the way I understand it, speech is constitutionally protected against laws passed by the government but a private entity can react however it wants.
Tumblr banned pro-ana websites because they don’t want blood on their hands and they want girls to get healthy. Unfortunately, this won’t rid the internet of Thinspo blogs, they’re already all over Pinterest (sometimes I feel like the “everything board” is only comprised of Jesus, thinspo, and weddings), but it’s a step in the right direction.