Critical Feminist Approaches to Eating Dis/Orders

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Over the past decade there have been significant shifts both in feminist approaches to the field of eating disorders and in the ways in which gender, bodies, body weight, body management and food are understood, represented and regulated within the dominant cultural milieus of the early twenty-first century. Critical Feminist Approaches to Eating Dis/Orders addresses these developments, exploring how eating disordered subjectivities, experiences and body management practices are theorised and researched within postmodern and post-structuralist feminist frameworks. Bringing together an international range of cutting-edge, contemporary feminist research and theory on eating disorders, this book explores how anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and obesity cannot be adequately understood in terms of individual mental illness and deviation from the norm but are instead continuous with the dominant cultural ideas and values of contemporary cultures. This book will be essential reading for academic, graduate and post-graduate researchers with an interest in eating disorders and critical feminist scholarship, across a range of disciplines including psychology, sociology, cultural studies and gender studies as well as clinicians interested in exploring innovative theory and practice in this field.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The book is invaluable…[it] will be of interest to anyone wanting to refine and rethink how to create effective and useful ‘on-going’ treatment and preventation programs by equipping them to see the illness in its wider cultural context." – Fiona Place, author and Host of the Commentary on Eating Disorders, Culture and Recovery at

"This is a uniquely comprehensive collection of feminist work on eating dis (orders) and body management, and as a collection the chapters eloquently illustrate the utility of a post-modern framework for theorising eating (dis)orders. ... The book presents an invaluable resource for students, scholars and educators in the fields of humanities and social sciences, as well as to clinical practitioners." - Lilliana Del Busso, London South Bank University, in Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

"This is the book so many have been anxiously awaiting. Bringing together the perspectives of clinicians, theorists, activists, and those suffering, this book expands our thinking about what forces help to create and sustain eating disorders and stimulates a critically informed and comprehensive understanding of eating and body image disorders and of the contemporary woman’s bodily experience. It is a ground-breaking and much-needed resource for those wanting to understand, treat, and prevent eating disorders."Margo Maine, Clinical Psychologist, author and co-founder of the Maine & Weinstein Speciality Group.

"Well considered, up-to-date and scholarly, I learnt a great deal without having to struggle and looked forward to reading the next chapter. Each contributor shows their knowledge and enthusiasm and the editors have linked each chapter brilliantly and seamlessly."Paula Nicolson, Professor of Critical Social Health Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415418102
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 6/26/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Helen Malson is a Reader in Social Psychology at the Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England, Bristol.

Maree Burns is the co-ordinator of the Eating Difficulties Education Network in New Zealand.

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Table of Contents

Katzman, Foreword. Malson, Burns, Re-Theorising the Slash of Dis/Order: An Introduction to Critical Feminist Approaches to Eating Dis/Orders. Part 1. Theorising Eating Dis/Orders in a Changing World. Eckermann, Theorising Self-Starvation: Beyond Risk, Governmentality and the Normalizing Gaze. Sayers, Feeding the Body. Gard, Understanding Obesity by Understanding Desire. Bordo, Not Just ‘A White Girl's Thing’: The Changing Face of Food and Body Image Problems. Part 2. Interrogating Cultural Contexts of Dis/Ordered Eating. Saukko, A Critical Discussion of Normativity in Discourses on Eating Disorders. Nasser, Malson, Beyond Western Dis/Orders: Thinness and Self-Starvation of Other-ED Women. Day, Keys, Anorexia/Bulimia as Resistance and Conformity in Pro-Ana and Pro-Mia Virtual Conversations. Rice, How Big Girls Become Fat Girls: The Cultural Production of Problem Eating and Physical Inactivity. Part 3. In/Visible Bodies and Embodiment. Probyn, Fat, Feelings, Bodies: A Critical Approach to Obesity. Burns, Bodies as (Im)Material? Bulimia and Body Image Discourse. Malson, Appearing to Disappear: Postmodern Femininities and Self-Starved Subjectivities. LeBesco, Weight Management, Good Health, and the Will to Normality. Part 4. Critiquing the Discourses and Discursive Practices of Treatment. Surtees, Food for Thought: Embodied Slimness and Nursing Within an Eating Disorders Unit. Moulding, The Anorexic as Femme Fatale: Reproducing Gender Through the Father/Psychiatrist-Daughter/Patient Relationship. Throsby, ‘There’s Something in My Brain that Doesn’t Work Properly’: Weight Loss Surgery and the Medicalisation of Obesity. Guilfoyle, Therapeutic Discourse and Eating Disorders in the Context of Power. Part 5. Critical Interventions. Epston, Maisel, Anti-Anorexia/Bulimia: A Polemics of Life And Death. Burns, Tyrer, The Eating Difficulties Education Network (EDEN), Feminisms in Practice: Challenges and Opportunities for an Eating Issues Community Agency. Treadgold, Treadgold, Treadgold, Rediscovering a Daughter. Gremillion, Complexities of Power and Meaning: A Reflection on Parts IV And V.

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