Recently, I was asked about my stance on Pro Ana (for Anorexia or Pro Mia for Bulimia) websites.
First I must say that yes, it has been through a unique vehicle that I’ve been able to contribute to a world greater than myself. And that is pageantry and my foundation, No Body’s Perfect. The biggest criticism I have received during my reign is that the media and arenas such as pageantry, or modeling are the things that are fueling the very thing I am trying to defeat.
And those are all very valid concerns, but in fact, for me the title of Miss Maryland has served as a giant microphone for increasing awareness of the severity and the prevalence of eating disorders in the United States, particularly within the state.
Over 10 million women in this country are struggling from anorexia and or bulimia. 90% of those women are between the age of 12 and 25. And 15% of all women in the United Sates who are NOT diagnosed with an eating disorder display substantially disordered eating attitudes and behaviors.
Now, back to the websites. For those of you that are not familiar, pro ana sites provide visitors to the page tips and tricks to being thin-- links to miracle diets or body cleansing products, "inspiration" photos or videos of themselves or supermodels with unattainable figures for most teens or young adults, purging secrets, and on and on. Over 6.5 M of these websites exist worldwide.
I find it extremely sad that these "communities" exist. As you can imagine, they build a FALSE sense of support. Instead of being a haven to discuss the illness, they are rooted in the promotion of unhealthy behaviors and are a marketplace for swapping destructive attitudes. Contradictory to what these websites advertise, eating disorders are NOT a lifestyle choice.