Doing weight: Pro-ana and recovery identities in cyberspace

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Abstract

This paper explores the role of online ‘body talk’ (text-based communication about bodies and bodily experiences) in the management, negotiation and development of eating disorder related identities. Two anorexia related Internet discussion forums (a ‘pro-ana’ and a ‘recovery’ website) were analyzed through the means of discourse analysis. The analysis focused on the type of body-talk produced in the different sites and the functions of this talk in relation to eating disorder related identities. Three forms of body talk were identified: descriptions of doing something with the body; descriptions of the body and descriptions of bodily experiences. On both sites these forms of body talk reproduced the thin ideal; demonstrated valid claims of group membership; and, for the pro-ana group, dynamically (re)produced eating disorder related identities through the reframing of health/appearance concerns as markers of success. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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