Annotated Bibliography


Shade, Leslie. “Weborexics: The Ethical Issues Surrounding Pro-Ana Websites.” ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society 32.7 (2003): n. pag. Web.

Shade discusses the basic definitions of the disorders that manifest those who go on, actively participate with, and even create pro-anorexic (pro-ana) and pro-bulimic (pro-mia) websites (referred to as pro-ana websites hereon). Historical beginnings of the disorder are examined, along with the debate of media causing the high diagnosis rate in modern time. Shade discusses the behaviors and mentalities of those who embrace their eating disorders on pro-ana sites, using their own claims as evidence; The eating disorder to many self-proclaimed pro-ana’s is a choice and is not an illness or instability. The author then goes into the details of the pro-ana sites including the motivations to create pro-ana websites, content available, and ideologies seen on them. Finally, Shade goes into the topics about censure and the debate of freedom of speech vs. ethics: The initial reveal of pro-ana websites to the public are mentioned along with the reaction of the public then major hosting sites along with the responses of pro-ana’s to those who tried to shut them out. She closes with discussion on pro-ana’s use of freedom of speech and anti-ana’s claims. Both sides of the debate are shown well in this paper, although there may exist a slight lean towards the freedoms argument in this article. This work is not as information-rich as the below papers, although serves a purpose in my writing to introduce the counter arguments against pro-banning.


Sharpe, Helen et al. “Review Pro-Eating Disorder Websites: Facts, Fictions and Fixes.” Health (San Francisco) 10.1 (2011): 34–44. Web.

Goals of this paper were to examine any existing information on harms brought about by pro ana/mia websited and deduce whether or not the banning of them were reasonable/necessary. Content and a more specific history on the websites are given in full and fact-based information on website visitation numbers and percentages are included. Research on why these sites continue to exist and have such a following is then studied. Discussion on potential dangers of the sites (for those who look for and those who happen to stumble across them) includes research and necessary questions that remain to complex to be answered properly. Harmful effects, including the possibility of following dangerous weight-loss “diets” and potentially contracting a serious mental illness from site visitation are discussed and the lack of studies on such matters is addressed. Finally, the paper offers a plethora of useful information on existing potential options on dealing with (or not dealing with) the websites in the sense of allowance/banning/etc as well as simply raising awareness. From the reviewing of research and data, the authors of the paper leave an insightful list of recommendations based off of the findings in the attempt to deal with the issue at hand both ethically in the perspective of both sides and legally.





Burke, Elisa. “Pro-Anorexia and the Internet: A Tangled Web of Representation and (dis)embodiment.” Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Health 5.1 (2009): 60–81. Print.

This article is essentially an anti-ana piece that uses feminist-based concepts to dispute against the movement, although does not suggest specific solutions in the sense of banning. The overall purpose is to reveal contradictions about what pro-ana’s may claim and show the oppression that they actually may be experiencing; pro-ana claims empowerment and control although in reality there is a masked oppression. The paper also discusses how the movement, which appears to embrace and voluntary encourage the illness of anorexia, challenges ideas about mental illness. To elaborate, the willingness of pro-ana’s to be anorexic threatens to discredit anorexia as an illness. Shutdowns of sites by Yahoo through rallying facilitated by specific groups are mentioned, similarly to the first article included, but include a detailed historical account of the pro-ana movement on the internet unlike the first. This article also discusses the contradictions and reveals the disunity between those who frequent the sites. The author continues with thorough feminist-based examinations of how the meaning of anorexia has changed, how the media plays a role in its attainments and otherwise, and how its open existence in society created an anti-anorexic backlash that victimized and accused predominately women just the same (too fat, too thin—never can win). Pro-ana sites then entered the scene and the author describes the how’s and why’s to that. The author closes out with saying that while many pro-ana’s assert they have control, their goals are representations of submission to the oppression they claim to avoid. The final note is that they are not a threat but a “disorderly discourse” that allows us to critically examine anorexia, feminism, power, and the internet as a medium. As this piece is long-winded and goes into great depth with theory, I will likely use it lightly in the anti and pro arguments.

4. (different chapters listed)

Peck, Robert S. “Questions and Answers about the First Amendment: Sex, Lies, and Cyberspace.” Libraries, the First Amendment, and Cyberspace: What You Need to Know. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000. 1-25. Print.


Peck, Robert S. “Questions and Answers about the First Amendment: Sex, Lies, and Cyberspace.” Cyberspace—The Last Frontier. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000. 125-146. Print.



These chapters (1&9) from a book literally titled “Libraries, the First Amendment and Cyberspace : What You Need to Know” are going to obviously be essential to the argument involving freedom of speech. The first chapter outlines the basics of the amendment, putting it into layman’s terms, and then briefly discusses its application to modern life and the internet. The ninth chapter goes specifically into the first amendment and the internet, history on the topic, and general conclusions of the relationship between the two. Although not explicitly including pro-ed sites, the chapters give the accepted interpretations of the amendment to similar topics. This book and chapters will be the only source that describes precisely the first amendment and gives it application to the medium of the Internet, while keeping the readability simple and straightforward for those, like myself, who do not particularly interpret historically-written law.



Lapinski, Maria K. “ ATheoretically Based Content Analysis of Pro-Eating Disorder Web Sites.” Health Communication 20.3 (2006): 243–253. Print.

This, like the first few, gives definitions and general information on eating disorders and pro-ana websites. Author, Lapinski, brings up the call of the ban, but discusses other options that obey the first amendment, like the same awareness that source #2 details. The main focus lies in wording that pro-ana sites tend to share. Message design theory is defined and discussed as the wording of pro-ana sites are decoded, using EPPM, and the effectiveness of harm to those who frequent or who may stumble across pro-ana sites of various types of phrasing is noted These message design theories are examined and questioned in a study where Lapinski found pro-eating disorder websites and examined the textual content, searching for text-based messaging. In the results, Lapinski goes over commonalities of pro-ana websites with respect to the layout and content available on each as well as inspected the phrases on each for severity messages, susceptibility messages, response efficacy messages, self-efficacy messages, and non-relevant messages. The findings show that messages showing efficacy and response efficacy are common on pro-ana sites and Lapinski discusses what these means in context of harmfulness that pro-ana sites harbor. This source will be difficult to use unless a full-blown explanation of message design theory is discussed along with the psychological explanation of the results. Even so, it is necessary to include it to show that, as inferred from the findings, the purpose of pro-ana is to continue the disorder, not to recruit new persons.




Yeshua-Katz, D. “Online Stigma Resistance in the Pro-Ana Community.” Qualitative Health Research 25.10 (2015): 1347–1358. Web.

This last article talks about pro-ana website politics and may offer important information about those who likely have developed an eating disorder due to finding the site and viewing the content. This would side with the pro-ban/anti-ana side of things like the second article mentioned, although doesn’t claim a stance aside from the desire to understand the stigmatized pro-ana community. Unlike all other sources, Yeshua-Katz, directly approached members of sites in the interview format. From the interviews, topics of interest examined include why pro-ana websites exist and thrive, what “wannarexics” are and how they are treated within the community as well as damages that they cause to the stigmatized community, and how general politics and expected behaviors on the sites were formed and are maintained.




  1. Jon Becker November 11, 2015 at 11:45 am


    This looks like a good list of mostly primary and scholarly sources. Good job, there.

    I worry a little about the dates on some of the articles because everything changes so quickly in Internet time, but it seems like some of the older articles will be useful for historical context.

    For some good information about freedom of expression online, you might want to dig through the archives of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

  2. M November 11, 2015 at 11:37 pm


    I actually struggled finding freedom of speech articles, so I’ll use the crap out of that. Very much appreciated!

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