HEALTH & WELLBEING

Ana y Mía, anorexia and bulimia on the Internet

bulimia

Does your child search the Internet for weight loss diets and information related to losing weight? Do you notice that his behavior has changed and he is eating less and less? Fashions, cinema, the current beauty canon reflected in influencers and other references for our children, as well as the constant bombardment of diets and body worship, cause many adolescents to end up reaching inappropriate content on the Internet and immerse themselves in it. world of Ana and Mia. Do you know what it is, how to prevent it or what to do if your child is a victim of it?

How does a teenager become Ana or Mia?

Nowadays, the physical image has become very important, to the point that there are values ​​in society that directly relate physical appearance to the success of a person in the different facets of his life. With good weather our body is more exposed to others, causing the insecurities and complexes that arise during adolescence to increase. The environment also encourages the cult of thinness, with continuous messages that remind you that it is possible to look good before the summer, as if it were a marathon with a countdown and losing weight was the goal.

Driven by this cluster of factors, many teens end up doing premeditated searches related to weight loss. There are numerous contents about diets on the Internet, easily accessible to anyone, including those without any type of control or supervision, despite the serious consequences that this can cause.

Those contents that make an apology for the loss of kilos in record time with extreme advice, are classified as “Pro-Ana and Pro-Mía” (in favor of anorexia and bulimia respectively). They usually appear openly through portals, channels or profiles on social networks and their recommendations put those who follow them at physical and mental risk.

The adolescent establishes the first contact through these types of platforms, becoming intimate and feeling understood, to later continue that contact more privately, either through instant messaging or social networks, where it is only possible to access with approval of the “subject matter expert” who assumes the role of leader.

On many occasions, it also happens that the adolescent does not reach these contents in a premeditated way, but rather that they appear masked in games , forums or channels of success among adolescents.

We help you identify Ana y Mía portals!

The early stages of these eating disorders can go unnoticed in the immediate environment of the affected person. As in the eyes of a teenager, driven by the sole desire to lose weight, recommended practices can seem innocuous. In this sense, Ana and Mía’s disorder becomes even more harmful and progresses faster than traditional anorexia and bulimia, since there is contact with other people who approve and give feedback to the adolescent, normalizing the situation.

These pages have some common characteristics:

  • Specific terminology: It is common for followers to recognize themselves under the nickname of princes and princesses, to talk about purging instead of vomiting, as well as to camouflage anorexia by calling her Ana and bulimia by calling her Mia. They use “code” phrases such as: “yesterday I made three Mine” to share with the rest that he vomited three times and justify extreme practices as a “lifestyle”.
  • Closeness: Something very characteristic is that this type of content appears written in the first person, where the author assumes the role of “expert on the subject”, contributing what supposedly worked for him.
  • Extreme recommendations: dangerous community puts its followers at serious risk with recommendations such as: eat ice and very cold food, use laxative after meals, spray the food with dishwasher detergent and eat it to pass to hate it, cut or self-harm to “distract the hunger ”, drink salt water to induce vomiting, bandage the abdomen tightly, even take medications that are prescribed for diseases related to diabetes or cholesterol.
  • Tables of measurements: World Health Organization considers them healthy.
  • Motivation: They monopolize the follower in such a way that group pressure is placed on whoever tries to “surrender” and leave the community behind. Signs of weakness are punished and there is a hierarchy within the followers, where “the Anas” are above “Mine”, since they have overcome the weakness of ending up eating food.
  • Photos with weight changes: they show extreme changes of the “before and after” (what is known as thinspo or inspiring images), causing the viewer to empathize and think that he can achieve it too.
  • Belonging to a group: bracelets on the left wrist in purple (to identify as Mia = bulimic) or red (to identify as Ana = anorexic).
  • Hashtags: As we already told you in a previous article , they use hashtags typical of this community in their content , with which it is possible to also reach closed groups on social networks by doing a simple search. Among the most common are: #Mía, #Ana, #ProAna, # ProMía, #Ed (short for “eating disorders” ), #Thinspiration, #Thinspo and # Size0.
  • Challenges: The leader often challenges his followers by proposing challenges, such as: “the kilos races”, which consist of losing several kilos in a very short time, the “A4 sheet”, which consists of getting the waist to be narrower than the width of a sheet of paper, also the ” Belly Button Challenge ” ” Collarbone ” in which you have to be able to make a kind of necklace by placing coins on the clavicle, which requires being extremely thin.

What can we do?

At present, it is difficult to end these pages, because as soon as they are closed, they migrate to a new one, taking their followers. In Spain, there is currently no rule that regulates this type of pages, although Catalonia is studying legislating it.

As preventive guidelines, it is important to reinforce the self-esteem of our children and transmit values ​​related to the subjectivity of beauty and self-acceptance. In addition, we must be an example for them in these aspects.

It is important to carry out an adequate parental mediation in which we observe what their interests are, as well as what type of content they consume. We can complement this work by relying on parental control tools that allow, among other functions, content filtering.

  • If our son is a victim of this type of practice, we should not question him, since it is evident that the problem has overcome him. In addition, it is necessary to maintain a climate of trust that will help us to be honest with us in order to tackle these bad practices by seeking solutions to the situation, such as resorting to professional help.
  • Develop your critical skills. It is essential that you get used to contrasting information, looking for other reliable sources or turning to trusted adults with doubts or concerns, before assuming certain information or ideas as truthful or innocuous.
  • From schools:
  • From the different platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, etc.): Rely on the agreement with the European Commission to promote a code of conduct that combats more effectively and quickly the proliferation of inappropriate content. Generating counterarguments that allow the audience to reflect from another point of view and report to the platforms themselves the existence of this type of communities are also actions that will help us.
  • IS4K Helpline. At the first signs of searching for this type of content through technologies and food imbalances, do not hesitate to seek specialized advice on the Help Line (017). You can also send us any content that is dangerous or harmful to minors on the Internet through our Report Line.

Did you know about the existence of this type of community and its way of acting? Do you still have doubts? Let us know in the comments of this article!

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