Mother Blaming and Anorexia: How Ideological State Apparatuses Have Informed My Perception of My Mother’s Role in Formation of My Eating Disorder
Autoethnographic research has described the tendency to ascribe blame to mothers for their daughters’ disordered eating patterns, but the mechanisms by which these attitudes develop have been insufficiently investigated. The literature on mother-blaming and mothers’ roles in the development of women’s eating disorders has provided macro-level theoretical explanations for this attribution of blame but lacks depictions of women who subscribe to these macro narratives and yet subsequently attribute blame to their own mothers on the micro level. In this paper, I address these two gaps by conducting a feminist autoethnographic inquiry into my own history of blaming my mother for my anorexia and other disordered eating patterns. I use classical structuralist and post-structuralist theoretical concepts, as well as Althusser’s proposed neo-Marxist idea of ideological state apparatuses (ISAs). Results indicate that my mother-blaming behavior was mainly influenced by apparatuses of medicine, church, education, family, and culture. Legal, political, civic, and media apparatuses were less involved in the construction of my perception in this area. All in all, my findings provide richer insight into mother-blaming internalization on the micro level and enlarge the “palette” of feminist approaches to eating disorder analysis.