More Political Commentary

Not long ago, I made a bold political statement: “Just for the love of all that is holy, make sure people have access to mental healthcare.” I swore I wouldn’t get political again, that I would stick to blogging about bits and pieces of research, talking about myself, maybe throw in some cat pictures. But I can’t keep my mouth shut about this one. Brace yourselves.

Slut-shaming is wrong.

Period.

Melania Trump’s portrait is all the Internet buzz today. Much criticism of the photo is related to the extent to which the photo was edited. However, it wouldn’t be an ordinary day without the Internet making derogatory comments. Topics include:

  • Something about modeling in the 90’s.
  • Previous experience in the pornography industry. (Didn’t happen as far as I know)
  • Adolescent masturbation.
  • Nude photos.
  • Oh what a terrible person for having had pictures taken in minimal clothing for money.

Mrs. Trump had a successful modeling career. She married someone who was later elected President of the United States. A lot of people do not like her husband. Not liking the president does not make it okay to slut-shame his wife. Not liking her doesn’t mean it’s okay to engage in that type of behavior, either.

Women are frequently on the receiving end of slut-shaming, but it’s not uncommon in other genders as well. People’s obsession with sex extends to the sexual “morality” of others, and those who have different values need to be removed from the group immediately. Calling a person [insert slang for prostitute here] is a quick way to oust an undesirable. It’s also hurtful, degrading, and completely unnecessary.

Regardless of who you are, who you have loved, and what you have done in the past, present, and will do in the future, being slut-shamed is unacceptable.

 

 

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Can Social Media Stop Pro-Ana?

The Internet is a beautiful thing. It’s an expansive repository of information on any subject. A massive emporium of anything one could want, from Apple seeds to Zebra pelts (Yes, you can buy zebra pelts on the Internet). And it’s a means of social connection.

This Buzzfeed article outlines the current state of attempts by social media companies to thwart pro-eating disorder (i.e. pro-ana and pro-mia) groups, blogs, and photos. I first heard about pro-ana back in the late 90’s when every middle schooler with an Internet connection had a Geocities page. I saw pro-ana sites again late into college, when a friend of mine was doing research on eating disorders for a psychology class and read a few posts on a pro-ana forum aloud to me in horror. Now it’s 2016, and people are still forming support communities based on a collection of deadly behaviors and maladaptive personality traits. Companies have been trying to shut down these communities with mediocre results like it’s 1999.

The latest effort by some is to strategically place recovery-oriented advertising and messages on pro-eating disorder media. I’m not entirely certain if there is evidence to back up this practice, though it’s probably not harmful. The site visitor is given a prompt to call the National Eating Disorders Association or talk with a trained volunteer online.

Here’s part of what it’s like to have an eating disorder: loneliness, feeling disconnected from others, self-loathing, shame, isolation, sadness, anger, and more self-loathing, shame, and loneliness. The well-known perk of pro-ana sites is the same as any other online support group: When you enter, you’ve found your people.

Social media can’t fully control what people post, try as they might. Continuing to try is the responsible thing to do. Social media is more complication than cause of the development and continuation eating disorder symptoms.What is especially problematic is how variable in real life support for individuals with eating disorders can be in the US, as well as a need for trained health professionals, and of course underfunding for researching causes and treatment.