An open invitation to productive conversations about feminism and the spectrum of eating disorders (part 1): Basic principles of feminist approaches

Andrea La Marre, Michael Levine, Su Holmes, Helen Malson

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Despite the long history of feminist research in the field and the clear relevance of questions of gender to this sphere, many continue to question the relevance of feminism for understanding and treating eating disorders in 2021. In this set of two papers, we explore some of the tensions, omissions and misconceptions which surround feminist approaches to eating disorders. At the core of these two papers is our assertion that such approaches can make significant contributions in the eating disorders field along six key lines: enriching the science of eating disorders, unpacking diagnostics, contextualizing treatment and prevention, attending to lived experiences, diversifying methodologies, and situating recoveries. In this first paper, we outline what feminist approaches are and dig into some key tensions that arise when feminist approaches come to the table. These include critiques of sociocultural approaches to understanding eating disorders, the relationship between feminist approaches and biological and genetic attributions for eating disorders, and the role of men. We then offer a key contribution that feminist approaches have made to eating disorders scholarship: an invitation to unpack diagnostic approaches and situate eating disorders within the landscape of food, weight, and shape concerns in the 21st century.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEating Disorders
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Jan 2022

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