chapter  1
24 Pages


I have argued that if we are to understand the problem of ‘anorexia’ better we need to engage more thoroughly with its socio-cultural and gender-specific dimensions. We must question the medical model of anorexia and the empiricist or positivistic assumptions concerning the nature and status of ‘anorexia’ that underlie many current perspectives and work instead from a perspective which situates anorexia within its socio-cultural context and which provides a more thorough theorization of gender. In this chapter I aim to provide such a perspective by drawing on psychoanalytic and post-structuralist theory. However, my aim is not to provide an exposition of psychoanalytic and poststructuralist theories in their entirety; such a project lies well beyond the scope of this book. I intend, rather, to discuss those aspects of psychoanalytic and poststructuralist theory which I think are particularly useful and inspirational in attempting to understand the experiences of the social subject and, more specifically, the distress that many girls and women in this society experience around eating and not eating, around losing and gaining weight, being fat or thin, around being a woman and around being ‘anorexic’.