Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Degree Type

Capstone Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies (BA)


Cultural Studies

First Advisor

Carmelo Esterrich

Second Advisor

Robert Watkins

Third Advisor

Steven Corey


There is media concern that books about eating disorders are harmful to young readers. However, there is little research on how readers interpret the content of novels and memoirs featuring characters with eating disorders. This project considers the thinspiration images used as motivation to lose weight on so-called pro-ana and pro-mia social networks for people with eating disorders, and draws parallels between thinspiration and images used on the covers of eating disorder books. This paper uses a Gramscian lens to dismantle media claims by analyzing the interactions between members of eating disorder social networks, showing that website users tum to novels and memoirs not only to entrench themselves in their eating disorders but also to witness paths to recovery and to redefine their own identities. Ultimately, eating disorder books function as tools for both self-destruction and social resistance against the negative social narratives associated with eating disorders.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.