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Friending Ana: Investigating the prominence and characteristics of pro-anorexia communities on social media

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Physically attractive people in western cultures are perceived more positively in society, translating into tangible benefits for those considered to be attractive. For western women, part of being considered physically attractive is having a thin or slender body. Anorexia, a preoccupation with low weight via food restriction, has among the highest mortality rates of all psychiatric disorders. Despite this, a recent phenomenon called Pro-Anorexia, the advocacy of anorexic behaviour, has become increasingly popular online. Those who are a part of the pro-anorexia culture are likely to reject the classification of Anorexia as an illness and engage in anorexic behaviours as a lifestyle choice. In this research, the prominence and themes of Pro-Anorexic content were qualitatively investigated on three social media websites. Presence of the community was noted on all three websites; however, most content was removed during the observation. As long as the western beauty ideal emphasizes and rewards thinness, this community, which provides support and guidance in the pursuit of thinness, is likely to continue to exist in online spaces.
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Keywords: physical attractiveness; pro-ana; pro-anorexia; qualitative; social media; thinness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Wyoming 2: The Ohio State University

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • Fashion, Style & Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal specifically dedicated to the area of fashion scholarship and its interfacings with popular culture. It was established to provide an interdisciplinary environment for fashion academics and practitioners to publish innovative scholarship in all aspects of fashion and popular culture relating to design, textiles, production, promotion, consumption and appearance-related products and services. Articles related to history, manufacturing, aesthetics, sourcing, marketing, branding, merchandising, retailing, technology, psychological/sociological aspects of dress, style, body image, and cultural identities, as well as purchasing, shopping, and the ways and means consumers construct identity as associated to Fashion, Style & Popular Culture are welcomed. The journal offers a broad range of written and visual scholarship and includes works done through various methods of research. We welcome conceptual, theoretical and translational applied research in the areas of fashion, style and popular culture. This journal hopes to stimulate new discussions in the fashion disciplines and to push the envelope of scholarship by welcoming new and established scholars to submit their works.

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