Wannarexia, or anorexic yearning, is a label applied to someone who claims to have anorexia nervosa, or wishes they did, but does not. These individuals are also called wannarexic, “wanna-be ana” or "anorexic wannabe". The neologism wannarexia is a portmanteau of the latter two terms. It may be used as a pejorative term.
Wannarexia is a cultural phenomenon and has no diagnostic criteria, although some wannarexics may be instead diagnosed with eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Wannarexia is more commonly, but not always, found in teenage girls who want to be trendy, and is likely caused by a combination of cultural and media influences.
Dr. Richard Kreipe states that 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. Many people who actually suffer from the eating disorder anorexia are angry, offended, or frustrated about wannarexia.
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. Some 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. Community websites for anorexics and bulimics have posted advice to wannarexics saying that they don't want their "warped perspectives and dangerous behaviour to affect others."
Kelsey Osgood uses the label in her book "How To Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia" where she describes wannarexia as “a gateway drug for teenagers”.
- 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. 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.
- 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
- Rachael Oakes-Ash (2001). "So you want to be anorexic—join the queue". Good girls do swallow. Edinburgh: Mainstream. ISBN 1-84018-480-9.
- Hardin, P.K. (2003). "Shape-shifting discourses of anorexia nervosa: reconstituting psychopathology". Nursing Inquiry. 10 (4): 209–217. PMID 14622367. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Giles, D. (2006). "Constructing identities in cyberspace: The case of eating disorders". British Journal of Social Psychology. 45 (3): 463–477. PMID 16984715. doi:10.1348/014466605X53596.
- Warin, M.J. (2006). "Reconfiguring Relatedness in Anorexia" (PDF). Anthropology & Medicine. 13 (1): 41–54. doi:10.1080/13648470500516147. 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'
- Cohen, D. (2007). "Live from London The worrying world of eating disorder wannabes". BMJ (British Medical Journal). 335 (7618): 516. doi:10.1136/bmj.39328.510880.59.
Wannarexia is a pejorative term and…is the latest word to come from the fast paced world of eating disorder terminology…. Community websites for genuinely anorexic and bulimic people have hit back by setting up sites offering advice to those trying to 'develop anorexia,' saying that they don't want their 'warped perspectives and dangerous behaviour to affect others.'
- Bauman, Valerie (2007-08-06). "Bad fad: Wannarexia". Associated Press. AM New York. p. 24.
- "'Wannarexic' girls yearn for eating disorders". USA Today. 2007-08-03. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
- Lyons, E.J.; Mehl, M.R.; Pennebaker, J.W. (2006). "Pro-anorexics and recovering anorexics differ in their linguistic Internet self-presentation". Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 60 (3): 253–256. PMID 16516656. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2005.07.017. 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…
- 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."
- "'I feel guilty but I hate my body': a feminist confesses". Guardian. 8 November 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2015.