‘Why hadn’t I come across this sooner?’ Exploring the relationships between ‘feminism(s)’ and ‘eating disorders’

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This article explores discursive intersections between ‘feminism’ and ‘eating disorders’, with a particular focus on eating disorder (ED) treatment. In doing so, it draws upon two sets of original qualitative data on how women with experience of an ED responded to 1) the idea of using feminist perspectives in ED treatment 2), a 10-week in-patient group based on feminist approaches to EDs. In exploring this data, the article seeks to contribute to the body of feminist work that has explored how girls/ women understand, navigate and use feminism, but specifically in relation to the contexts of eating problems. Whilst there is a rich body of feminist writing which seeks to give ‘voice’ to the experiences and politics of women’s eating/body distress, there has been little attempt to offer these subjects an opportunity to respond to the feminist discourses themselves. In interrogating this issue, the article raises questions about the historical marginalisation of feminist approaches to EDs in clinical research and practice, and suggests that they are worth pursuing as part of contemporary ED treatment. However, doing this requires careful navigation of contemporary understandings of ‘feminism’, popular constructions of the relationship between feminism and EDs, and the dominant (and often hostile) discourses of biomedical ED treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-397
Number of pages27
JournalFeminist Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Feminism
  • eating disorders
  • anorexia nervosa
  • treatment
  • qualitative

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