Author(s):

  • Amanda K. Greene
  • Lisa M. Brownstone

Abstract:

In order to better understand the functional significance of pro-eating disorder (pro-ED) online spaces for users, the current study investigates identity performance as it plays out on pro-ED Tumblr and Instagram account bios. We used data scraping methodologies to illuminate key facets of pro-ED social media culture beyond thinspiration, and found that pro-ED Tumblr and Instagram bios commonly utilize self-tracking and self-quantification (e.g., self-tracking data regarding exercise and food intake, lowest weight, current weight) to represent online personas. Drawing from this data, we suggest the importance of understanding pro-ED social media use as a mode of enacting eating disorder practices and articulating eating-disordered identities online. More specifically, we posit that self-quantification and self-tracking on social media can be seen as a way that individuals with eating disorders extend practices of self-containment and control online in a world that increasingly blends online and offline life. By understanding the multifaceted psychological functions of pro-ED social media use we can build more informed interventions aimed at minimizing individuals’ needs to engage in such spaces in the first place, which in turn might have a preventive impact.

Documentation:

https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2021.1984272

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