“Instagram is my only world”: exploring the function of media-based social networking services for individuals with eating disorders
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The following study sought to qualitatively explore the function of media-based social networking services for individuals with eating disorders. Data was collected via naturalistic observation of publicly available user profiles located on the popular social networking service, Instagram. Theoretical sampling dictated a final sample size of 15 user profiles, encompassing a total data set of 750 image posts, 696 image captions and 2679 comments. Strauss and Corbin's analytic procedure revealed the capacity for social networking to empower those with eating disorders to transcend the socio-cultural barriers that repress their identity and to assist users in finding alternative means of managing an important, yet marginalised, component of the self. Through these channels, one's eating disorder identity can be effectively expressed, validated and projected in a virtual community built upon, and embracing of eating disorders. Whilst social networking is predicted to increase the salience of one's eating disorder identity for those struggling with their illness, these services offer access to support, understanding and therapeutic opportunities for disclosure which may be unavailable in the offline world. There is a need to further explore the influence of social networking for those with eating disorders and how these services may be adapted as tools for health promoting activities.
Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference.
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified