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Pro-anorexia tags fly under the radar on Tumblr

Some Tumblr bloggers, mostly young women, are using hashtags like “abc” to discuss pro-anorexia dieting plans—a topic Tumblr banned earlier this year.


Lauren Rae Orsini

Internet Culture

Pro-anorexia bloggers on Tumblr haven’t gone away. They’ve just gotten more careful.

Following Tumblr’s ban earlier this year on “blogs that glorify or promote anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders,” such blogs have instead developed a code for talking about these forbidden topics.

This September, just in time for back to school, the tag “ABC” is spiking on Tumblr. The acronym stands for “Ana Boot Camp,” an eight-week long dieting regimen favored by anorexics and bulimics.

Tumblr users—mostly young women—track their limited intake to as low as 100 calories a day under both the “ABC” and “ABC diet” tags. They follow a strict schedule of fasts and low calorie meals at the risk of their own mental and physical health.

“So I decided i’m going to replace days 2 and 3 of the abc with fast days because … well because i wanna look skinny when school starts,” willingtobeskinny wrote. “There’s this really skinny hot girl in my class and i want to look better than her.”

“Day one of the ABC. So far so good. Guess I’m not having dinner tonight since I went over 2 calories. I forgot the rules of this diet, but does fruit count?” melrosegoodbye42 wrote.

In a recent study published in the journal Health Communication, pro-Ana bloggers explained why they turn to the Internet to find support.

“Nobody ‘normal’ understands why you want to starve yourself for days on end. Nobody ‘normal’ can understand your frustrations when you fail and your gleefulness when you can go through a day of fasting or a day of perfect restricting — only people like myself would,” one blogger wrote.

The authors of the study wrote that “efforts to censor an outlet for a group who cope with a mental illness that has no effective treatment” might be the wrong approach, and suggested providing online resources without stigma and judgment.

Social networks including Instagram and Pinterest have banned or placed warnings on top of hashtags associated with disordered eating, such as “thinspiration.” Tumblr has made its disapproval known, but has not banned such searches.

Photo by davidd

The Daily Dot