‘It's always that idea that everyone's trying to look like something’: Revisioning sociocultural factors in eating disorders through Photovoice

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Eating disorders (EDs) are now often approached as biopsychosocial problems. But the ‘social’ aspects of the equation are often marginalised or relegated to contributory factors, whether in mainstream ED research or clinical practice. When such factors are considered, an emphasis on media images and ‘thinness expectancies’ tends to predominate – offering a familiar narrative which may be limiting in understanding the aetiology and experience of EDs. This study draws upon feminist approaches to EDs and the methodology of photovoice (Wang and Burris, 2004) to understand how 10 people with lived experience frame and articulate the role(s) of sociocultural influences in the development of their eating problem. The responses help to consolidate the argument that a focus on media and body image may be misleading, pathologizing and contribute to the stigmatisation of EDs. Whilst some have argued for better ‘mental health literacy’ in understanding EDs and combatting stigma, it is suggested here that improved ‘sociocultural literacy’ – understanding the interaction between sociocultural discourses and mental health – is just as pressing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102753
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Early online date2 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

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