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The Thin Commandments: A Guide to Anorexia Nervosa Essay

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In today’s world, the pursuit of thinness has increased due to the association it has with physical attractiveness and body perfection. Society, particularly the Western culture, idolizes thin body size as the ideal body image. And as a consequence, eating disorders can develop when people take this to the extreme. Scholars have looked at all forms of persuasive tools that can explain the popularity of anorexia nervosa. From language use (Burke, 1966) to the power of culture in terms of presumed knowledge (Dumit, 2003) and its increasing interest in the ideal body image of the Western culture (Vandereycken and van Deth, 1994).
Kenneth Burke’s “Terministic Screens” (1966) uses the metaphor of camera lenses to explain that language and words affect and determine the way we see the world. While Burke introduces two approaches to the nature of language, I want to focus on the “dramatistic” (Burke 44) approach. With the “dramatistic” (Burke 44), Burke argues that since we all possess our own frame of reference or symbols for interpreting the world, words and thoughts can never be objective since their strength relies on interpretations. Symbols then become a kind of screen through which the world is seen and our realities are each unique because of this.
In their article “From Fasting Saints to Anorexic Girls: The History of Self-Starvation” (1994), Walter Vandereycken and Ron van Deth note that anorexia nervosa is not a modern crisis. They claim that this particular eating disorder is in fact embedded in the Western culture. Vandereycken and van Deth argue that voluntary starvation has evolved over time. Both scholars acknowledge that what started off as a starvation for religious ritual to achieve religious piety has now turned into ...


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... to search for and create pro-ana websites. However, the Internet is not to be blamed and you cannot simply block all pro-ana websites to reduce the problem, as they will find its way back on the web. The problem here rests on the cultural factors that we have created in today’s society.


Works Cited

Burke, Kenneth. “Terministic Screens.” Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature and
Method. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966. 44-62. Print.

Fahnestock, Jeanne. “Accommodation Science: The Rhetorical Life of Scientific Facts.” Written
Communication. 3.3. (1986): 275-296. Print.

Gardner, Paula. “Distorted Packaging: Marketing Depression as Illness, Drugs as Cure.” Journal of
Medical Humanities. 24.½. (2003): 105-130. Print.

Jane, Mary. The New Pro Ana & Mia Nation. Blogspot. N.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
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