PsychNology Journal, Volume 10, Number 3, 169 – 186

Online violence: Not beautiful enough… not thin enough. Anorectic testimonials in the web

Teresa Sofia Castro, Antonio Osorio
University of Minho, Portugal


ABSTRACT

Pro-anorexia is a social and harmful movement on the Web. These Websites are popular among youth who wish to be thinner, because they represent neutral and free judgemental spaces, where one can find support, express their feelings and thoughts around the disturbing anorexic lifestyle. Considering this, during the literature review concerning risky and easily available contents on the Internet, the need arose for an in depth study of proanorexia websites, once they appeal to extremely dangerous behaviours and beauty standards that can endanger children’s well-being. This qualitative exploratory content analysis examined Portuguese speaking blogs written by adolescents (boys and girls) between 13 and 19 years old, who use the Web in order to meet like-minded peers, with whom they share diets, tips, tricks, thinspiration material, and dangerous and harmful information about fasting, drugs, self-harm or suicide. The proanorexia Weblogs work as a stimulus for starvation and weight loss among youth who share pro-anorexic goals. Although data cannot be generalized, evidence suggests that these blogs can have undesired and negative effects in young children because they contribute to: i) the increasing of risky contents on the Web; ii) the encouragement of disruptive eating behaviours; iii) the maintenance of a already existing eating disordered behaviour; iv) children’s alienation from offline social ties; v) the growth of these communities among young children. With this article we aim to raise awareness about this problem and its impact among children. Nevertheless, further research is needed and should extend to more Portuguese children and male bloggers.

KEYWORDS: pro-anorexia, anorexia, eating disorders, thinspiration, children, teenagers, Internet, blog, family


CITE AS:
Castro T. S., Osorio A. (2012). Online violence: Not beautiful enough… not thin enough. Anorectic testimonials in the web. PsychNology Journal, 10(3), 169 - 186. Retrieved [month] [day], [year], from www.psychnology.org.

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PsychNology Journal Volume 10, Number 3