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‘Dying to be Thin’: A Thematic Analysis of Pro-Ana Communities

Ellidge, Jennifer (2011) ‘Dying to be Thin’: A Thematic Analysis of Pro-Ana Communities. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Traditional discourses of eating disorders suggest that Anorexia is an illness and pathology. However, with the emergence of the Pro-Ana movement in the 1990s and its rejection of Anorexia as a disorder, the increasing importance of feminist and sociological approaches has been noted in existing literature; instead taking into account the importance of slenderness and beauty in a patriarchal Western culture (Orbach, 1994). As a subject of scrutiny in the media, it can be argued that popular opinion of the movement is negative and unbalanced. Drawing upon feminist and sociological theory, this research aims to study the marginalised group of Pro-Ana from a neutral position. Using the methodology of Thematic Analysis, this research explores the appeal of Pro-Ana communities and the most significant elements in the experiences of women who are associated with them, using their narratives to give this community a voice. With the emerging themes relating Pro-Ana communities as therapeutic retreats and religions; this research highlights the importance of the healing relationships within Pro-Ana circles as a way of gaining emotional strength. The role of media exposure on the popularity of the websites is also discussed.

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