Unformatted text preview: 96 C ybermea’ical bodies that individuals should make rational choices to return to normal health, or
indeed achieve desired states of health, despite the contested nature of these con-
cepts. The effect of this is that ‘the anorexic’s determination to starve in the fame
of such abundance is essentially seen as irrational’ (Draper 2000: 129). The ten-
sions caused around the social construction of anorexia were a regular feature of
the topics of discussion within the blogs we examined: also my mum and sister are ALWAYS on my case, checking on me and force
feeding me and crying when I won’t eat.
(Anonymous user, Pro-Ana blog) What sucked is no one wanted to listen to my problems, no one cared.
(Anonymous user, Pro—Ana blog) I wish I had one friend who would understand me and I could talk to about
my problems but I don’t none of my friends would understand.
(Anonymous user, Pro-Ana blog) Online environments are utilized to manage the forms of ‘discursive constraint’
(Ronai 1997: 125, cited in Cordell and Ronai 1999) they experience in other
contexts, wherein their ‘behaviour is constrained by the threat of having a nega-
tive category applied to herself. These categories are disseminated throughout
society so effectively that they take on a taken for granted or given quality’
(Ronai 1997: 125). Within these medicalized and psychiatrized discourses (Harwood 2006),
anorexia becomes deﬁned as a negative social position through which to establish
a sense of self, implicitly working to persuade someone to return to
‘normal/healthy’ weight. It constrains the discourse that these young women can
apply to their self (Cordell and Ronai 1999), reducing the available subjectivities
to positions of irrationality or pathology. Anorexia becomes positioned as ‘other’
through these discourses, as the ‘body that “has” difference’ (Ferreday 2003: 277).
As Komesaroff ( l 995: 4) observes, where common social practices are formulated
in the language of pathology, the possibility of a moral evaluation of them is intro-
duced. To this end, ‘otherness’ is conceived of as ‘different’ or even ‘deviant’ and
propels many of these users to keep returning Pro-Ana environments: I swore never to come on here again, but there is no place like home. I kept
saying to myself, ‘You are fine. Even if you have gained some weight, you are
still considered underweight. I’ll just give my mum a break and be normal.’
Well, I can be normal to her and perfect to me. (Anonymous user, Pro-Ana blog; our emphasis) The narratives made public in these Web spaces reveal how many of these
young women were managing anorexia as both an identity and an illness cate-
gory that may lead to processes of ‘subjectivisation’ (Foucault 1996: 472) (see ...
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