Date Submitted


Faculty Advisor

Sarah E Getch, PhD

Second Faculty Advisor

Amy M. Shoffner, PsyD

Third Faculty Advisor

Leah Barreca, PhD


Thinspiration, sometimes referred to as pro-anorexia (pro-ana) or pro-bulimia (pro-mia), is a relatively new online trend that has promoted disordered eating as a lifestyle choice rather than a dangerous mental illness. Thinspirational content has served to reinforce the idealized depiction of excessively thin body types with user created content that has included pictures of emaciated individuals, tips and tricks to lose weight in a rapid and unhealthy manner, quotes and poems promoting disordered eating, etc. This study examined the descriptive experiences of 29 individuals who viewed such material through the use of interpretative phenomenological analysis and found that seven different themes emerged: a motivation to lose weight, body dissatisfaction, shame/guilt, envy/jealousy, body comparing, sadness, and anger/frustration. This study attempted to explore how such descriptive experiences aligned with established theories that served to explain thinspirational content viewing, but ultimately not enough information was able to be gathered to draw extensive comparisons. A majority of respondents definitively stated that they would not be open to discussing their viewing habits with a parent or a therapist. This study served to add to existing literature on the topic and will aid future practitioners in working with individuals who view thinspirational content. It also served to identify the importance of the practitioner taking the initiative to discuss such content viewing in session with their clients. Future studies may investigate themes generated among different age groups, specific disordered eating diagnoses, social media platforms, and look into the behavioral consequences of viewing such content as opposed to the mental ones.