“The fact she has anorexia fits in perfectly”: Beverley Allitt, self-starvation and media narratives of criminal femininity

Holmes, Su (2020) “The fact she has anorexia fits in perfectly”: Beverley Allitt, self-starvation and media narratives of criminal femininity. Women's Studies in Communication. ISSN 2152-999X

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Abstract

This article examines the press construction in the early 1990s of Beverley Allitt, the nurse known as one of the Britain’s most prolific women serial killers, focusing on Allitt’s diagnosis of anorexia at the time of her trial and how it shaped understandings of her mental state, her character, and her perceived culpability. It is the relationship between Allitt, gender, and everyday constructions of anorexia that is of interest here, particularly in terms of how her image contributed to media discourses on self-starvation and femininity. The analysis suggests that Allitt’s anorexia was primarily understood in terms of manipulation, inauthenticity, and performance—discourses which consolidated perniciously gendered conceptions of self-starvation, as well as the problematic clinical practices through which anorexia was “treated.” As these treatment practices continue to have a legacy today, it is crucial to examine how they have been normalized and legitimized through popular media discourse.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: anorexia,eating disorders,treatment,women serial killer,manipulation,feminism
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Film, Television and Media
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2020 08:30
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2020 23:57
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/74304
DOI: 10.1080/07491409.2020.1740901

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