Gender, technology, feminist theories, bodies, cyborg, virtual communities, pro ana, cutting, self injury
This project examines the relationship between gendered identities, virtual communities, and material bodies, with an emphasis on eating disorders and self-injury practices. The use of the internet to represent and foster particular categories of material bodies, such as the anorexic, the fitness buff, and the self-injurer, has gained substantial visibility due in part to the proliferation of visual imagery presented through social networks. I analyze written and visual texts within specific social networks to assess their function and potential impact on individuals and larger communities. Drawing from Donna Haraway's cyborg theory, N. Kathryn Hayles' posthuman, Judith Butler's performativity, feminist poststructural analysis, and the notion of augmented reality, this project explores how individuals rely on social networks, images, and technologies to provide supportive environments for, as well as modify and maintain, specific gendered bodies. Applying feminist interpretations of Foucault's concepts of discipline and "docile bodies," primarily the research and critiques of Susan Bordo, Anne Balsamo, and Armando Favazza (among others), I examine how image sharing and interactions via social networks and communities affect material bodies and function as forms of social control, normalizing and encouraging ultra-thin bodies and dangerous behaviors, including eating disorders, overexercise, and cutting. I also explore subversive strategies of resistance enacted both within and beyond pro-ana and self-injury communities to counter negative messages and promote positive body image in girls and women.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Texts and Technology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Preston-Sidler, Leandra, "Watch Me Disappear: Gendered Bodies, Pro-Anorexia, and Self-Injury in Virtual Communities" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1168.