I N T R O D U C T I O N
In Fitness and in Health
A number of feminist scholars and thera-
pists have argued that anorexia is an impor-
tant ‘‘case study’’ for examining problems
with the embodiment of feminine identity
in the contemporary United States. Works
such as ‘‘Anorexia Nervosa: Psychopathology
as the Crystallization of Culture’’ (Bordo
1993a) and Hunger Strike: The Anorectic’s
Struggle as a Metaphor for Our Age (Orbach
1986) emphasize that although anorexia is
considered to be a psychiatric illness, it must
be situated within new cultural expectations
about ideal femininity. Anorexia’s incidence
increased more than 50 percent in the 1970s
and 1980s,∞ at the same time that there was
an increasing focus within mainstream U.S.
society on women achieving autonomy, self-
control, and bodily fitness through dieting
and exercise. Pressures for women and girls
to diet and ‘‘keep fit’’ contain contradictions
about females’ capacities for self-control:
self-control (through control over the body)
is thought to be both a necessary and a di≈-
cult achievement. The ‘‘battle of the bulge’’
is culturally coded as an unending struggle
for women, and many scholars suggest that
anorexia embodies this call to perpetual ef-
fort in a dramatic way. This struggle is linked
to discourses of class, race, and ethnicity, as
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