Sex Roles

, Volume 53, Issue 5–6, pp 413–418 | Cite as

Femininity, Mental Weakness, and Difference: Male Students Account for Anorexia Nervosa in Men

  • Chris McVittieEmail author
  • Debbie Cavers
  • Julie Hepworth


The purpose of this study was to examine how men account for the diagnosis in men of anorexia nervosa (AN), a condition commonly associated with women. Male students participated in focus group discussions of topics related to AN. Discussions were tape-recorded with participants' consent, transcribed, and then analyzed using discourse analysis. The participants spontaneously constructed AN as a female-specific condition. When asked to account for AN in men, they distanced AN from hegemonic masculinities in ways that sustained both dominant masculine identities and gender-specific constructions of AN. These findings show how issues of health and gender are interlinked in everyday understandings of AN. Future researchers might usefully consider how the construction of gender-specific illness implicates wider notions of both feminine and masculine gender identities.


anorexia nervosa social construction discourse analysis masculinities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris McVittie
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Debbie Cavers
    • 2
  • Julie Hepworth
    • 3
  1. 1.Queen Margaret University CollegeEdinburghUK
  2. 2.University of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  3. 3.Argosy University
  4. 4.School of Social Sciences, Media, & CommunicationQueen Margaret University CollegeEdinburghUK

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