The Pro-Ana Paradox
Leading the first T600 of the semester, Daphna from IU Telecom highlighted a disturbing and rarely-covered topic: pro-anorexic web communities. Her research illustrated that these sites aim to help those with the disorder gain control over their life. By interviewing those who use the sites, she discovered that users became part of these communities for the social support, for self-expression, and as a coping mechanism. Pro-ana bloggers claim that the community is valuable, as sharing experiences provides a sense of catharsis. Nevertheless, the users also have a great fear of disclosing their experiences and worry that their contributions may encourage others to commit to the lifestyle.
The pro-ana paradox in the larger context of social stigma
Dr. Pescosolido from IU Sociology provided a great deal of broad information related to social stigma and anorexia. She explained that what we consider stigma is rather antiquated. Despite this, Goffman’s explanation of stigma still strongly applies to anorexia. Relating to Daphna’s research, Bernice showed that the users of pro-ana websites seek support yet go to great lengths to protect their identities. This desire to share coupled with the need for secrecy embodies the paradox at hand. Finally, Bernice shared a deeply-precise model of stigma called the Framework Integrating Normative Influence in Stigma (FINIS). Essentially, it shows what creates any given stigma and how the stigmatized ultimately react to their label.