Negotiating Thinness Online: The Cultural Politics of Pro-anorexia, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Negotiating Thinness Online

The Cultural Politics of Pro-anorexia, 1st Edition

By Gemma Cobb


192 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138589223
pub: 2020-02-29
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This book interrogates the thin ideal in pro-anorexia online spaces and the way in which it operates on a continuum with everyday discourses around thinness. Since their inception in the late the twentieth century, pro-anorexia online spaces have courted controversy: they have been vilified by the media and deleted by Internet moderators. This book interrogates the phenomenon during its tipping point where it migrated from websites and discussion forums to image-centric social media platforms – all the while seeking to circumvent censorship by, for instance, repudiating ‘pro-ana’ or adopting hashtags to obfuscate content. The author argues that instead of being driven further underground, ‘pro-ana’ is blurring the boundaries between normative and deviant conceptions of thinness. Situating the phenomenon in relation to accepted constructions of thinness, promulgated by establishments as far ranging as medicine and women’s magazines, this book asks if ‘pro-ana’ holds the potential to critique that which has long been considered normal: the culture of compulsory thinness. Engaging with debates including the current climate of postfeminism and neoliberalism, digital censorship, the pre-eminence of white, middle-class, heterofemininity, and the articulation of pain in realising the thin ideal, Negotiating Thinness Online examines what happens when the margins and the mainstream merge.

Table of Contents

Introduction: ‘Girls in Danger’

1: Medicine, Maladies and Anorexia Nervosa

2: ‘Lose Weight Without Dieting’: Disciplining the Body in Women’s Magazines

3: Normalising Pro-Anorexia

4: Intersectional Privilege in Pro-Anorexia Online Spaces

5: Articulating Pain: Investment or Lament

6: From Counterhegemonic to Counterpublic? The Political Potential of Pro-Anorexia

Epilogue: From the Mainstream to the Margins and Back Again

Appendix: Information on Pro-Anorexia Online Spaces

About the Author

Gemma Cobb is a Lecturer in Media at the University of Brighton, UK. Her research interests include gender, the body and digital culture.

About the Series

Gender, Bodies and Transformation

Gender, Bodies and Transformation
This series explores the intersection of two key themes in relation to scholarship on bodies: gender and transformation. Bodies are gendered via biology, culture, medicine and society, such that gender, so deeply and intimately connected to identity, is a crucial part of any thorough analysis of the body. At the same time, bodies are - and have always been - sites of transformation, whether through 'natural' processes such as pregnancy, illness and ageing, or the more eye-catching, 'unnatural' transformations of cosmetic surgery, violence, extreme bodybuilding or dieting, cross-species transplantation, elective amputation or tattooing. Interdisciplinary in scope and welcoming work from a range of approaches, including cultural and media studies, sociology, gender studies, feminist theory, phenomenology, queer studies and ethnography, Gender, Bodies and Transformation publishes scholarly examinations of contemporary cultural changes that are relevant to both gender and the transformation of bodies, whether in single bodies or between bodies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General