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List of terms related to Wannarexia

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Wannarexia, or anorexic yearning,[1] is a label applied to someone who claims to have anorexia nervosa, or wishes they did.[2] These individuals are also called wannarexic[3]wanna-be ana[4] or "anorexic wannabe".[5] The neologism wannarexia is a portmanteau of the latter two terms. The condition is a cultural phenomenon, not a diagnosis.[6]

Some people fitting this description may also be diagnosed with eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Wannarexia is most common in teenage girls who want to be popular.[6] Wannarexia is likely caused by a combination of cultural and media influences.[3]

Author and Personal Performance Coach Susan Kano has written, "Most young women have "anorexic thoughts" and attitudes,[7] and there are no diagnostic criteria for wannarexia.[3] The distinction between anorexia and wannarexia is that anorexics aren't satisfied by their weight loss, while wannarexics are more likely to derive pleasure from weight loss.[3] Many people who actually suffer from the eating disorder anorexia are angry, offended, or frustrated about wannarexia.[3]

Although wannarexics may be inspired or motivated by the pro-anorexia, or pro-ana, community that promotes or supports anorexia as a lifestyle choice rather than an eating disorder,[8] they are not welcome in this subculture. Participants in pro-ana web forums only want to associate with "real anorexics" and will shun wannarexics who only diet occasionally, and are not dedicated to the lifestyle full-time. In this context, wannarexic is a pejorative term.[9]

Further reading

  • Drummond, Katie (2007-08-08). "Wannarexia: When Death Becomes Trendy". Her Active Life. The Final Sprint, LLC. Retrieved 2007-08-25. ...but for many young women, anorexia has become a hot new trend, so common that medical experts have coined a new name, ‘wannarexia,’ to describe the dangerous fad.
  • Forman-Brunell, Miriam (2001). Girlhood in America: an encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. pp. p. 245. ISBN 1-57607-206-1. With this widespread popularization of the illness, susceptible girls could be heard to say, not "I want to be thin" but "I want to be anorexic.
  • Hardin, P.K. (2003). "Shape-shifting discourses of anorexia nervosa: reconstituting psychopathology". Nursing Inquiry. 10 (4): 209–217. doi:10.1046/j. Retrieved 2007-08-07. ...the focus of this article is on how discourses and institutional practices operate to position young women who take up the subject position of wanting to be diagnosed as anorexic.
  • Rachael Oakes-Ash (2001). "So you want to be anorexic—join the queue". Good girls do swallow. Edinburgh: Mainstream. ISBN 1-84018-480-9.[5]


  1. Hardin, P.K. (2003). "Shape-shifting discourses of anorexia nervosa: reconstituting psychopathology". Nursing Inquiry. 10 (4): 209–217. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1800.2003.00189.x. Anorexic yearning. Accounts of individuals stating that they want to become anorexic stirred the greatest energetic debate on the Internet boards.
  2. Tiemeyer, Matthew (2007-08-10). "Wannarexia?". About.com. Retrieved 2007-10-18. ...'wannarexia' refers to someone who wants to 'catch' anorexia in order to lose weight and, presumably, be more popular.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Bauman, Valerie (2007-08-04). "'Wannarexic' girls aspire to be anorexic, eating disordered". Newsday. Retrieved 2007-08-06. Most commonly found among teenage girls, wannarexia is a label describing those who claim to have anorexia, or wish they did.
  4. Giles, D. (2006). "Constructing identities in cyberspace: The case of eating disorders". British Journal of Social Psychology. 45 (3): 463–477. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Warin, M.J. (2006). "Reconfiguring Relatedness in Anorexia" (PDF). Anthropology & Medicine. 13 (1): 41–54. Retrieved 2007-08-07. There were some who were called ‘anorexic wannabes’—these were the people who wanted to be anorexic, and actively pursued what they called ‘the coveted title'
  6. 6.0 6.1 Bauman, Valerie (2007-08-06). "Bad fad: Wannarexia". Associated Press. AM New York. p. 24.
  7. Kano, Susan (1989). "Anorexic Thoughts and Attitudes". Making peace with food: freeing yourself from the diet/weight obsession. New York, NY: Perennial Library/Harper & Row Publishers. ISBN 0-06-096328-X. Most young women have "anorexic thoughts" and attitudes
  8. Lyons, E.J. (2006). "Pro-anorexics and recovering anorexics differ in their linguistic Internet self-presentation". Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 60 (3): 253–256. Retrieved 2007-08-08. Pro-anorexia has emerged as a new and emotionally charged eating disorder phenomenon...self-identified pro-anorexics...defend anorexia as a lifestyle... Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  9. Pascoe, C.J. "No Wannarexics Allowed: An Analysis of Online Eating Disorder Communities". Digital Youth Project. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2007-08-06. According to the posters on these sites a 'wannarexic' is someone who occasionally diets but who is not dedicated to an eating disordered lifestyle.