Performing Anorexia on YouTube: The Aesthetics, Narratives, and Functions of Video Testimonials

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Loewen, Rachel




This thesis examines anorexia video testimonials uploaded to YouTube by women. By focusing on three major sub-genres - confessionals, food videos, and life stories - this research brings new awareness to the ways women can use the platform to make themselves, and thus their anorexia, visible. The aesthetic and narrative parameters of each sub-genre create various types and levels of functionality. Confessional videos may enable YouTubers to repair their self-narratives, become active witnesses, and use their bodies to communicate their stories. Food videos, on the other hand, are uniquely suited to help those with anorexia work through the paradoxical emotions of fascination and fear around food. Finally, life story videos may increase feelings of empowerment, embodiment, and selfhood. Moreover, the comment cultures that surround these videos can generate strong affective ties and help affirm these YouTubers' decisions to share their anorexia stories and increase the visibility of the illness.


Mass Communications




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Film Studies

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Theses and Dissertations

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