The Presentation Of Pro-Anorexia In Online Group Interactions

The focus of this study was to analyze the presentation of pro-anorexia via an interpretive phenomenological analysis of postings to a pro-anorexia (pro-ana) online discussion forum. Upon research, it was discovered that the audience/participants were people who were less likely to reveal that they suffer from an eating disorder to people in the real world, such as friends and family. Because identity is a secret online, participants’ thoughts and behaviors on these websites were strengthened through a group of strangers.

The study used an un-obstructive, passive observational approach to 3 days of postings to a popular pro-anorexia online discussion forum. Due tot the nature of the research, the characteristics of the participants are largely unknown. Though it was clear that it included individuals from different nationalities and age groups. The researchers searched the term pro-anorexia forum into both Yahoo and Google, yielding multiple links to websites, news articles, online journals and forums all dealing with pro-anorexia. Five open forums that are open to public discussion groups without the requirement of a username or password to gain access were selected to be studied. Researchers monitored the five forums over a two week time period, seeing which sites were most active. The most active forum was the forum chosen for the final data collection. Data was collected during a 7 day period between the Christmas holiday; from December 20-26, 2004.

In conclusion, the researchers found that the women were supporting each other on increased weight loss goals, paying attention to the physiological changes and bodily responses that come with this weight loss. Worrying changes such as hair loss were seen as positive signs by other group members, therefore normalizing body changes that should be alarming issues. It was also discovered that there were two overall themes found on the forum, One concerns maintaining a sense of the pro-ana self as abnormal. The other is keeping the anorexia and eating disordered identity hidden from family and friends.

The information found within this journal article can be useful to my research and the argument of my paper. It includes a study that examines a pro-ana website, a type of site that I have previously mentioned earlier on. This study also provides an analysis of what exactly is going on within a pro-ana forum and also includes sample texts from the forum. It was determined that the goal is to be abnormal and continue to lose weight, while supporting each other through the process, but also keeping anorexia a secret from those in reality.

Gavin, Jeff, Karen Rodham, and Helen Poyer. “The Presentation of “Pro-Anorexia” in Online Group Interactions.” SAGE Internet Research Methods. Ed. Jason Hughes. Vol. 18 London: SAGE Publications Ltd., 2012. v4-363-76. SAGE Research Methods. Web. 6 May 2014.


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