Graduation Date

Spring 2022

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Applied Anthropology

Committee Chair Name

Mary Scoggin

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Rebecca Robertson

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



People who deliberately practice eating disordered behaviors as a lifestyle form digital communities known as pro-ana. Pro-ana identity is constructed through the medicalized frameworks of anorexia nervosa that attempt to maximize weight loss and also manage other eating disorder behaviors such as binging and purging. This thesis examines pro-ana materials requested and produced on websites, Whisper, and Reddit, assembling these discursive and image exchanges into discourses that identify and describe eating disorder pathology and recovery. My ethnographic collection consists of screenshots of written materials and images from websites, Whisper posts, Reddit threads, and a Discord. This thesis examines discursive strategies used by pro-ana writers to avoid censorship, maintain pro-ana identity, move toward lower weight goals, and manage physiological risks and social risks of stigmatization or interference. Personification and other figurative externalizations of eating disorders separate and concretize the chaotic and compulsive aspects of eating disorders. These writers construct iconic figures, skill-sets and practices that both embrace and reject ideologies around anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.


Content Warning: this thesis contains graphic descriptions and imagery of eating disorders and eating disordered behaviors, as well as explicit discussion of “numbers,” such as specific weights, calories, BMI, and measurements.

Citation Style


Included in

Anthropology Commons