An underground subculture of teenage girls who bond over their eating disorders and glorify bone-thin celebrities has surfaced on the Internet, in a growing trend that experts say frustrates treatment.
The girls share near-starvation diets in Web journals and offer tips for denying hunger pangs or dodging the suspicions of family members. They discuss extreme calorie restriction or weight loss through laxatives, diet pills and purging, or self-induced vomiting. And they post “thinspiration” pictures of their idols — such as supermodel Kate Moss and the Olsen twins.
In fact, 18-year-old Mary-Kate Olsen, who with her sister Ashley is the face of a multimillion dollar American brand catering to young girls, has become a top icon in the Web communities since spending six weeks in a Utah clinic for an eating disorder earlier this year.
“I found little pictures of Mary-Kate and I'm posting them all over my room and in my backpack and my purse and my car and everywhere, so I am always reminded of her strength. Hopefully it will keep me in check,” a college sophomore named Emma writes in her Web journal while considering a three-week fast broken only by soup on every third day.
A spokesman for Mary-Kate Olsen said the actress has focused on her recovery and not Web chatter. She has not spoken publicly about her disorder and has returned to college.
“She's not trolling these sites so I'm not sure how aware she is of how she's being presented,” Michael Pagnotta said. ”There's a lot of controversy over some of these sites but when you're a public person you can't be responsible (for them).”
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