Liberating articles or oppressive reproduction?: a rhetorical analysis of popular media discourse concerning anorexia
Lager, E. Grace
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There has been much discussion in the last decade about anorexia nervosa. Typically, the focus in popular media coverage of anorexia has been on the character profile of a "typical" anorectic; on possible "triggers" of the disorder; and on medical, including psychological, treatment and effects of the disease. Still, there is something missing from these articles. For instance, the typical magazine article about anorexia describes the anorectic, her body size and weight, how and when she developed the disorder, her rituals while "actively" suffering, and the treatment she went through. In all of this analysis, there have been several theories developed about why women and girls starve themselves, featuring such variables as rebellion, selfishness, perfectionist tendencies, feelings of inadequacy and pressure from society. While all of these can be supported by a plethora of case studies, there is one thing all popular magazine stories about anorexia have in common: they consistently neglect to address the role anorexia plays in maintaining the patriarchal marginalization of women and girls as objects of masculine desire. This thesis, however, seeks to address what has been ignored by these articles and to pursue the reason(s) these issues are not addressed.