Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Some Thoughts On The Presentation

I would like to start by saying that I was happy that I had more time to present and I hope that it did not bore anyone. Because this topic is sensitive it was really helpful to have time to preface and outline some of the caveats of this online community as well as discussing Eating Disorders in general.
I would like to address a few things in lieu of my presentation. Firstly, I think that I should give thanks to Owen Wiltshire for encouraging me to use my blog as a way to interact as well as talking to me about blogs and their implications more generally. Thanks Owen!
I also want to say that there is a lot that I did not have a chance to discuss. I felt it was important to introduce the online community and because this is such a detailed task, I did not get to talk about some of the more theoretical aspects of my research, or go into the kind of detail I had hoped about further questions I am developing. I think that Dr. Forte's suggestions that I continue (and expand upon) my interactions in the community will help answer and develop further questions. But, I suppose I should claify. Dr. Forte - do you suggest I expand my research location to include sites outside of blogs (such as livejournal, personal websites, etc?) Or should I continue, focus and cultivate my research on blogging?
In terms of theory, which I did not have much time to talk about, there are a few places from which I am drawing a framework. As I discussed, I am working with J.T. Allen's Thesis entitled "'Pro-Ana' As Negotiating (Dis)Order in Cyberspace: How Women Reproduce, Restructure, And Challeng 'Psy' Discouse" (2006). Her chapter's on Pro-Anorexia & Cyberspace and her concluding chapters on Struggle with Classification and Restructuring Anorexia have been particularly useful in my understanding of this online community.
As well, I have found many resources on NEDIC (they publish a series of informative articles written by healthcare professional) on a range of topics (including online communities).
I am also consulting some literature on the normalization of body dissatisfaction (this text was actually recommended to me by a 'blogger' I am following- thanks!).

The focus of my paper I think will be oriented towards contradictions that I find present in the communities. Such contradictions exist from the very disclaimers many of these websites have: "Do not enter if you don't have an eating disorder" in many ways acts as an invitation.
The contradicting definitions of what 'pro-ana' means is another example of such dissention. Oppositions between medical definitions and pro-ana definitions are also examples. Dr. Forte brought up another intersting point about the 'religious' undertones with a prodominantly secular group of people. As well there is the common theme of extremes: fat and thin, perfection and failure, hunger and satiation, control and chaos.


  1. I think a focus on blogging is good as it seems to be emerging as perhaps THE primary means of dissipating ideas in web 2.0. I've seen plenty of websites that I used to go to for information slowly transform themselves into blogs and even forums are slowly going the way of the buffalo.

  2. It does sound as though there is a lot there. I did mention to you that I had a question which didn't get asked in class given the sea of raised hands. Here it is: I was wondering what kinds of vocabularies of 'choice' tended to be used in these contexts and what kinds of I suppose this is a bit obvious (I mean, you definitely touched on this), but it really jumped out at me when I saw (as is typical of the discourses of AA and addiction, really any psychiatric 'pathology' - but in definite tension with a lot of the 'self-help' and responsibility culture) the NEDIC claim, on their site, that 'pro-ana' site producers:

    "falsely believe that anorexia is a choice, and that others support their choice"

    ...and it seems easy to see why individuals (especially in a highly responsibilized social-political setting) would reject such a defintion and vocabulary of passivity and non-agency. Frankly I've always found these kinds of constructions really unhelpful and, for lack of a better term, disempowering (their partial truth seems transparent - these things seem like crude simplifications to many thinkng people - and in some ways worse than the condition: non-agency, helplessness, total determination from outside the agential self). And of course, a la AA, they have a historical base in Dr. B. Rush's construction of 'addiction', etc. Not to mention the religious overtones...

    Tough project; best of luck.

  3. Hey thanks for plug and I'm glad it worked out so well.

  4. I missed the question, sorry! On the other hand, Rob above gave the perfect answer, I thought.