For years fashion has been blamed for being the major cause of eating disorders affecting girls all over the world. Today the real culprit seems to be Facebook, according to a survey carried out by the University of Haifa, Israel, among teenage girls aged between 12 and 19.
In the '70s the blame was laid exclusively on parents and later fashion was also accused because it portrayed thin models. It was then observed that the age of girls affected by the disorder is changing, with girls as young as 11 or 12, when it is rather unlikely they will buy glossy magazines, and we expect that somebody will prevent them from spending hours on end on Facebook.
Models, as I have underlined before, are in most cases naturally long, lean and slender being still very young and still not fully developed. The image they convey, however, is often that of an excessive thinness, but designers themselves discard those who are visibly suffering from nutritional problems. This is a topic that has been often discussed with false prejudice against fashion when nobody was left to blame.
Yet now we find out that not only the girls’ parents or fashion, or models are to be blamed. The more time you spend logged in Facebook the more chance you have to become anorexic. Reading the article it looked like the social network was guilty of showing virtual role models that girls tend to imitate. Wrong, and sometimes even fake models, the result of photoshop alterations. The younger tend to feel inadequate as regards such models and put their health at stake trying to imitate them. They accept messages passively and adjust to them. Sometimes destroying their lives.
Leaving aside for a minute the parents, who may be too busy working to constantly keep check of the number of hours spent by their children in front of the computer, I was intrigued by such theories and decided to check Facebook out. What struck me was finding out that it is true that sites like "pro-ana" in support of anorexia were originally pages created on Facebook, but – without meaning to defend Facebook that, being so vast, is impossible to control – it is the multitude of pro anorexia website that is truly scary.
On Facebook users share everything and for sure will make comments on anorexia, make fun of it or encourage it: yet exclusively pro-anorexia blogs and websites in my opinion are much more dangerous. There countless of them and their number is growing in America and are active in all countries. They have weird names and, from "Ana's girls" onwards, provide a kind of open confessional supporting those who are unable to carry on by themselves along a road that can only lead to death.
Many petitions are started (which I always sign because I love animals) in support of abandoned dogs, ill-treated animals and in their defense people set up associations and press charges. And so why nobody is asking to shut down these sites which drive young girls and boys to destruction (20%) when they are still unable to understand the dangers they are facing?
This is a real social commitment and I believe that if we must take action to protect these young people blaming a social network will not solve the problem. We must get moving and ask for these sites and blogs to be shut down. An I am positive that even by using Facebook in constructive way each one of you may spread the intention of helping those who are weaker and draw the attention on a such a tragic and painful phenomenon. A journey that often begins lightheartedly and then reaches the point of no return.