Pro-anorexia: extensions of ingrained concepts

Olivia Knapton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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Pro-anorexia is an internet-based movement that hails eating disorders as a lifestyle choice. This article aims to reveal pro-anorexia members’ underlying conceptualisations of anorexia that contribute to the maintenance of the disorder. Cognitive linguistic analysis was undertaken on a corpus of data collected from systematically selected pro-anorexia websites. The findings show that the members structure their eating disorder experiences through two central conceptual metaphors: ANOREXIA IS A SKILL and ANOREXIA IS A RELIGION. It is argued that these structures represent an extension of, rather than a radical break from, the accepted conceptualisations of female beauty in Western society. This view challenges the legitimacy of public anger that has been directed towards the pro-anorexia movement and its members.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-477
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number4
Early online date8 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • adolescents
  • cognitive Linguistics
  • conceptual metaphor
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • eating Disorders
  • feminism
  • gender
  • mental health
  • online communities
  • pro-anorexia
  • websites


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