Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lifting the lid on the pro-ana websites

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati have been looking into pro-anorexia social networks and web sites in a piece of qualitative research that found four main themes:
  • Staying "true" to the anorexia movement - in which members of social networks or forums "confess" their guilt at eating too much and not exercising enough
  • Promoting self-loathing strategies - when web sites encourage postings that involve people's loathing of their bodies and their mental worthlessness and weakness. In pro-anorexia sites these feelings are accepted and not contradicted as they are in other social networks
  • Pro-anorexia advising - such as tips on dieting and how to deal with family members who are advising healthy eating
  • Pro-anorexia encouragement - affectionate messages that bind the group together and tips and techniques to encourage anorexic behaviour
The researchers carried out their study between October 2006 and May 2007 and most of the members of the sites were thought to be White women or girls between the ages of 13 and 26.

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