Doing weight: Pro-ana and recovery identities in cyberspace

Sarah Christine Riley, Karen Rodham, Jeffrey Gavin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (SciVal)


This paper explores the role of online ‘body talk’ (text-based communication about bodies and bodily experiences) in the management, negotiation and development of eating disorder related identities. Two anorexia related Internet discussion forums (a ‘pro-ana’ and a ‘recovery’ website) were analyzed through the means of discourse analysis. The analysis focused on the type of body-talk produced in the different sites and the functions of this talk in relation to eating disorder related identities. Three forms of body talk were identified: descriptions of doing something with the body; descriptions of the body and descriptions of bodily experiences. On both sites these forms of body talk reproduced the thin ideal; demonstrated valid claims of group membership; and, for the pro-ana group, dynamically (re)produced eating disorder related identities through the reframing of health/appearance concerns as markers of success. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-359
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date21 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • pro-ana
  • recovery
  • eating disorders
  • discourse analysis
  • identity


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