Anorexia Bracelets Reveal Secret Society
Parents Should Recognize Warning Signs
NBC 4 Detroit | February 12, 2005
They look like any bracelet you might buy at the mall. You probably wouldn't even notice if your child started wearing one, but these are not just any bracelet.
They are a sign of membership in a disturbing world of underground Web sites, which connect people who share a dangerous passion.
"They are encouraging people to be ill and it's like a secret cult, a secret society. Word spreads around and people have a lingo now," said Lynne Grege of the National Eating Disorders Association .
The lingo includes nicknames like Ana and Mia. The cute names may sound innocent, but they aren't.
Bracelets sell for about $20 on a web site called www.bluedragonfly.org and if you spot your child wearing one, you may have no idea what it means.
Parents Local 4 spoke to said they thought the bracelets were just a teenage fad, but finding out what the fad was all about shocked them. They realized the teenagers were engaged in a practice that could be a matter of life and death.
Local 4 discovered that the inconspicuous bracelets are actually a secret signal for people with eating disorders and other destructive behaviors.
Red bracelets represent anorexia, purple is for bulimia and black and blue is for self injury, such as cutting and self mutilation.
The nickname Ana is for anorexia and Mia is for bulimics.
Eve Rosenblum, 18, owns one of the secret bracelets. The Royal Oak teenager has struggled with anorexia since she was 12 years old. She visits Web sites like Blue Dragon fly almost every day.
"They understand. They don't think it's like horrible and they don't think you should get better," said Rosenblum.
The red "ana" bracelet reportedly signals anorexia. Some say it is a reminder to teens that they shouldn't eat.
The Web sites don't discourage eating disorders. Lila's Good Health reports they encourage the behavior of people who want to keep starving themselves.
The Blue Dragonfly Web site lists the first names and hometowns of girls who have ordered the secret bracelets. There's Kristina from Clarkston, Jessica from Inkster, Rachelle from Canton, and more.
Visitors post messages encouraging each other's weight loss and even offer tips on how to purge quieter.
The Web site features pictures of emaciated women. They call it "Thinspiration." They are pictures designed to inspire girls to lose more weight.
Girls that Local 4 spoke to said the anorexia bracelets are more than a secret sign of membership. They use them to motivate themselves not to eat.
"If you're going to eat something and you see the bracelet on your arm, you'll stop yourself and say I don't want that," said Rosenblum.