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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Pro-anorexia is a complex, multi-layered phenomenon that exists only online. The women who participate in these websites are learning to negotiate how to manage an identity that is normalized within the group but stigmatized within larger society. Using an open-ended survey, distributed online directly to pro-ana website users, I aim to illustrate pro-anorexic experience. After a brief demographic sketch of typical pro-anorexic spaces, I examine pro-anorexia in depth by asking three primary research questions: 1) how do pro-anorexics craft their online identities within the community; 2) how do individuals interact with one another in a highly contested and heavily policed online social world; and 3) how does a counterculture negotiate its relationship with larger society? In asking these three questions, I am extending current academic understandings of pro-anorexia by spotlighting what pro-ana is in the words of the women who use these websites and engage in disordered eating behaviors.


First Advisor

Janice Irvine

Second Advisor

Jonathan Wynn