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Laureanne Willems | Take Up Space/Know Your Place: On the Relationship Between Anorexia and Feminism

Abstract

This paper takes Emma Woolf’s memoir An Apple a Day as a case study to look at the relationship between feminism and anorexia. Reading the memoir in this context lays bare the ways in which the feminist model fails to understand Woolf’s lived illness experience. Through looking at Woolf’s personal aetiology theory, the stigma around anorexia and mental illness, contemporary gender roles and beauty ideals, and conceptualisations of health and illness, it becomes clear that anorexia cannot be understood in a single interpretational framework. In her memoir, Woolf is speaking back to larger narratives about anorexia.*

*The author explores the lived experience of anorexia in more detail in her MA thesis, which was awarded the UU Best Master’s Thesis Award 2019.

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