The researchers reached out to 300 bloggers and received a 10 percent response -- a statistically significant response. Both men and women with eating disorders were approached, but only women participated. Participants ranged in age from 15 to 33. Most were attending high school or college, and all lived in countries where anorexia is most common. About two-thirds lived in the United States.
Yeshua-Katz said many bloggers express themselves through song lyrics, music and photos that they call "thinspiration," which are very controversial. Complaints from eating disorder support groups have led Internet service providers to shut down pro-anorexia websites, but the site administrators and bloggers have remained resilient.
"They use the blogs to look for support and understanding, but at the same time, the content that they display is something for us -- people who are not sick -- very disturbing," she said. "Studies show that people with eating disorders are stigmatized. Therefore these bloggers are looking for a place to vent out and express themselves without judgment of others."
Yeshua-Katz, the lead author on the paper, frequently researches how marginalized people are mediating their stigma through social media.
"The results revealed that the answers to why individuals are attracted to pro-ana sites have little to do with the need to share a broad philosophy or outlook and may stem from the desire simply to belong to a safe community of individuals with similar experiences," the researchers wrote in the study.
Their primary motivation for blogging was to seek social support. Most bloggers started publishing because
|Contact: George Vlahakis|