Are we all ugly ducklings when we look in the mirror? : misunderstandings and new interpretations : a discursive analysis of the idealized body within pro-anorexia websites
This research explores the controversial nature of the pro-anorexia (pro-ana) websites. While previous studies have been conducted on the nature of these websites, it is essential to uncover the motivating factors behind maintaining a pro-ana identity. The purpose of my research is two-fold; a) uncover the definition of the idealized female body within the pro-ana websites, drawing connections between the idealized female body as conceptualized within our current society, and within the pro-ana websites; b) to demonstrate the core values held by pro-ana users that enable them to pursue their goal of achieving the idealized female body. The theoretical framework for this thesis is based upon the work of feminist scholar Susan Bordo. Specifically, her analysis of the idealized female body within Western culture acted as the lens through which pro-ana websites were examined. A five step critical discourse analysis approach put forth by Norman Fairclough was implemented to guide the research and data analysis. Textual data was collected from three different pro-ana websites over the period of one week. In addition to discourse analysis, a brief content analysis was used to distinguish the common themes of posting topics. From the results of the content analysis, the definition of the idealized female body according to the pro-ana users was created. In addition, the three underlying values held by pro-ana users during their pursuit of the idealized body -- discipline, self-surveillance and drive – emerged from the data collection and analysis. It is important to distinguish that an underlying need to maintain constant control is present. As the existing literature on this topic is still undergoing development, the results of this study offer key insights into the underlying motivations of those users found within pro-ana websites. It is clear that further research is needed in order to distinguish new and desperately needed approaches to treating eating disorders as they are only becoming more prevalent within society.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorThomas MacLean, Roanne
CommitteePoudrier, Jennifer; Lovrod, Marie; Nicol, Jennifer A. J.
Copyright DateApril 2010
Sociology of the Body