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Allure's Skinny Secret

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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WEIGHTY ISSUES Allure

Have hordes of baby anorexics taken over Allure magazine's online message boards?

On the Condé Nast title's website, readers, presumably somewhere near the mag's 30-ish demographic, are invited to log on and participate in a Total Makeover and get tips on diet and fitness. Via a red button labeled "Panic," they can join a chat room to get "thinspiration" and gab about the merits of Pilates versus yoga. But a startling number of the posts aren't coming from the cosmopolitan women the beauty rag targets—they're coming from desperate girls as young as 12. Some resulting comment threads, with titles like "Starving Myself," have morphed into disturbing, soft-core chats between high school and middle school girls of normal weight.

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Says one underage poster (tag: "imsougly"), "I'm so fat and I'm only 14. My sister is thin and beautiful and I'm a short blubber ball." Another, "sooxxobvious," trills, "I'm 13 ... I weigh 136 now. And I want to get to at least 110. I know it's extreme, but I'm gonna do it. I mean really: hot guys on the beach in a bikini oh dear lord." Two additional discussions began, "Anyone 12-14?" and "Anyone 12-13 overweight?" prompting one lone poster to comment, "Is anyone even slightly disturbed by this? ... I'm absolutely speechless."

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