Saints, sinners and standards of femininity: discursive constructions of anorexia nervosa and obesity in women's magazines

Kally Whitehead, Tim Kurz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It has been suggested that women are encouraged, particularly by the popular media, to gain 'feminine' power through the pursuit of a 'suitably' petite figure. The current project investigated, from a feminist poststructuralist perspective, the construction of female obesity and female anorexia in 20 popular magazine articles (10 anorexia and 10 obesity articles). Of interest was the extent to which the two states, despite both being physically unhealthy, may differ with respect to the ways in which they are constructed as 'feminine' or aesthetically abhorrent. Whilst both being contextualized medically as deviant, dangerous, and overwhelmingly physical, anorexia nervosa was constructed as more desirable, powerful and feminine than obesity. We discuss the implications of these dichotomous representations in relation to issues surrounding the social construction of 'the feminine'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-358
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

Keywords

  • Anorexia
  • Body image
  • Discourse analysis
  • Femininity
  • Obesity
  • Women's magazines

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