Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication



Major Advisor

John McClellan, Ph.D.


Manda Hicks, Ph.D.


erin d. mcclellan, Ph.D.


This study illuminates how college men negotiate and communicate their body image in a culture that is placing greater emphasis on the importance of body image for men. Embracing the theory of Social Construction, this study offers a communicative perspective to explore men’s articulation of body image and how they make sense of anorexia. Existing research reveals anorexia as a problem primarily associated with women, and consequently men demonstrating anorexic behaviors often find it difficult to receive help. Literature also affirms that our culture often expects men to be ashamed of behaving in any way that does not conform to particular standards of masculinity. Overall, anorexia is often understood, diagnosed, and medically treated only as a problem for women. In this study, focus groups of men who regularly work out were executed and qualitative analysis of the focus group transcripts was conducted. The findings of this study reveal how men talk about their bodies. Specifically, participants explained abdominal muscles as a commodity and source of power; had an overwhelming fear of becoming fat; felt a sense of pressure from society to adhere to stricter body and appearance standards; and questioned whether a man could be diagnosed with anorexia. The men in this study frequently discussed behaviors that aligned with anorexia diagnoses criteria, yet characterized anorexia as strictly a female problem and thus attempted to justify and negotiate their behaviors to comply with socially-created standardized masculine norms.