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Health Commun. 2013;28(5):499-508. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2012.699889. Epub 2012 Aug 8.

Communicating stigma: the pro-ana paradox.

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Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.,


This study explores the personal experience of pro-ana bloggers, members of an online community for people with eating disorders. Using Erving Goffman's work on stigma, this study explores the motivations, benefits, and drawbacks of blogging about a stigmatized mental illness, as taken from the bloggers' own perceptive. We conducted 33 interviews with bloggers from seven different countries via phone, Skype, and e-mail. Participants were motivated to blog because they found social support, a way to cope with a stigmatized illness, and means of self-expression. Participants described blogging as a cathartic experience and perceived the social support they received from other members of the pro-ana community as a benefit. The fear that the eating disorder will be revealed if the blog is exposed and the concern that the blog encourages disordered eating were the perceived negative consequences of maintaining such a blog. Thus, blogging about anorexia serves to both alleviate and trigger anxiety about living with this stigmatized illness. Recommendations for future research are made.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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