Central Leader : January 11th 2013
www.centralleader.co.nz 7 CENTRAL LEADER, JANUARY 11, 2013 NEWS The Cut complementary o er applies to new subscribers only. All new and existing subscribers are automatically entered in the Queenstown PGA Championship trip draw -- to be drawn on February 4, 2013. O er ends February 1, 2013. Not available in conjunction with any other o er. Total subscription price is $101.40 for 12 months. For full terms and conditions visit sundaystartimes.co.nz/subscribe. SUBSCRIPTION OFFER To subscribe visit sundaystartimes.co.nz/subscribe OR call 0800 SUNDAY (786 329) Subscribe to the Sunday Star-Times today from just $1.95 per week and we'll send you a years subscription to The Cut magazine. Tee off your Sunday with Sunday Star-Times Go to sundaystartimes.co.nz/subscribe for prize details WINa trip to NZ PGA in Queenstown Subscribe & be in to Valued at $2,800 + Online anorexia glorification hampering cure Internet sites glorifying eating disorders are compounding what is a serious psychiatric problem. Stick thin: 'Thinspiration' websites feature celebrities like Amanda Bynes to motivate people with eating disorders. Don't eat: An example of photos used on a thinspiration blog on Tumblr. Kate* weighed 40 kilograms when she was in her late teens. She was battling anorexia nervosa, which left her suffer- ing from anxiety and depression and her education scarred from prolonged absences. Kate, now a University of Auckland student, has since recovered from her three-year struggle with the disease. It takes over everything else,'' she says. Eventually there becomes very little else in your life that has that much power over you.'' A common theme emerges from research, the work of practitioners and patients' firsthand experiences. Eating disorders are powerful, addic- tive and destructive. But if the internet and its ever-expanding blogosphere are thrown into the mix, what is the impact on these vulner- able individuals struggling to fight life-consuming diseases? A quick Google search reve- als eating disorders are increasingly being glorified online. The range of content is varied, from entire websites dedicated to the promotion of anorexia and bulimia to per- sonal blogs detailing people's experiences. Kate says she would use online calorie counters to achieve her aim of eating less each day and she also visited blogs which were blatantly pro-anorexia. People would tell what they'd eaten that day and how guilty they felt. How they couldn't believe they'd eaten a certain thing,'' she says. She says the websites also contained tips for patients on how to trick both family members and medical profes- sionals into thinking they are eating. Many websites incorporate all of these elements, as well as thinspiration'' -- photos of desirable, skinny bodies. Some of the girls pictured seem healthy. Thin, but healthy. Others have protruding col- larbones and legs the size of arms. Kate found the accessibility of this content a surprise. But while those with eating disorders are accessing this content, so are those trying to help them recover. Anorexia is the most fatal of all the psychiatric diseases per capita and pro-anorexia websites only worsen the problem, says Dr Charles Fishman, of the New Zealand Eating Disorder Specialists. They're terrible. They nor- malise a life-threatening dis- ease,'' he says. Internet safety organis- ation NetSafe is often contac- ted by people who are con- cerned about what they find online. Operations manager Lee Chisholm says it is usually parents who reach out to them for help. Sometimes older people don't really realise how much is on the internet and they get a bit of a shock.'' Earlier this year blogging website Tumblr altered its user guidelines to ban con- tent promoting eating dis- orders. Blogs were deleted and bloggers were outraged. But many simply started anew and it only takes a quick Tumblr search of the tags pro-ana'', pro-mia'' or even just skinny'' to discover the website is struggling to con- trol its own users. Mrs Chisholm says there is no silver bullet when it comes to getting patients away from their keyboards, mice and favourite thinspiration blogs. There's so much access these days, it's not viable to try and block something. Peo- ple are determined to keep looking.'' For Thrive Centre psychol- ogist Bridgit Bretherton- Jones it is a hard one to monitor''. For her, the sol- ution lies in finding out how patients feel about the web- sites. We work hard not to tell clients what to do because it's their recovery,'' she says. I think it's really tricky when you say to someone those sites are terrible and bad and don't look at them'. It's prob- ably going to result in them looking.'' Both Mrs Chisholm and Ms Bretherton-Jones believe the issue is not black and white as some websites offer sup- port to people living an anorexic lifestyle, without encouraging them to con- tinue. That may be the only place where the person is get- ting any kind of understand- ing of what they're dealing with,'' Mrs Chisholm says. Family can't understand it, friends can't understand it and everyone's trying to make them eat.'' Ms Bretherton-Jones ech- oes this outlook but says it is hard to define what content is actually helpful, because every website varies. Kate says it is still hard to keep on track. If I skip a meal I feel like the impulse is kicking in. You have to be quite disciplined.'' One irrepressible fact emerges from Kate's story, which is that anorexia is hard enough to deal with offline. But when the internet gets involved, eating disorders have the potential to snow- ball to the point of no return. *Kate's real name has been withheld at her request.
January 9th 2013
January 16th 2013