Ana and Mia sound like nice girls, perhaps girls you wouldn't mind your daughter being friends with. But in a secret world, these names are not 'girls' at all, but rather eating disorders personified. Like a pet name, girls struggling with anorexia refer to their affliction as 'Ana', while 'Mia' represents Bulimia.
"PRO-Ana", "Me and Mia", "Ana is My Sister", are just a few of the popular phrases used among the PRO eating disorders communities. Girls as young as 13 are setting up secret accounts on Twitter, with a name like "I Want to Die" and "Dying to be Thin", then following hundreds of other secret PRO ED accounts. They all seek 'perfection' and give each other tips on how to stay strong in their torment to refrain from eating, or encourage each other to purge in order to clear their conscious from binging.
As they post pictures of "Thigh Gaps" they aspire to achieve, or the extreme exhibits of protruding collar and hip bones, they proclaim "This is perfection", "Strong is the New Skinny", or "Bones are beautiful". "Thinspire" or "Thinspo" are terms these girls use when they need a little THINspiration (their inspiration usually coming from photoshopped images of unrealistically skinny and underweight bodies).
Twitter is just one of the online spheres where you can find these communities. There are YouTube videos, websites, blogs, tumbler accounts and more also dedicated to promoting Ana and Mia.
I cried the first time I stumbled across a huge band of secret ED accounts on Twitter. Posts about wanting to die, self-harm and suicide were just a few of the trending topics amongst the tweets. I followed as many as I could bear in the hope that they would follow my account back and stumble across this blog. But the negative, self-loathing is overwhelming and I now have to skip past the dark death-filled tweets, unable to read them.
My goal is to reach out to these girls, but there is so little you can do until they make a step towards recovery on their own terms. I won't stop trying, but more importantly I want to reach out to mothers, fathers and all guardians of the younger generation to educate the people who influence our young girls the most, in the severity of these diseases. It starts in our homes and what influences our children in these crucial developmental years, affect them for life. If we can have a louder voice than that of Ana and Mia, the media or any other negative body image influence, then we can beat this battle.
Next year blussh will be launching new programs and workshops to reach our young girls in schools. Register your interest here on our contact page - just mention you are interested in finding out more about the Blussh School Project.
You can read more information about Eating Disorders here.