Throughout this project, I will be examining how feminism and eating disorders (especially the process of recovering from eating disorders) intersect. Much of the community surrounding people recovering and living with eating disorders (ED’s) exists on social media, particularly on blogging platforms. While social media can provide a supportive environment, often it can bring down those dealing with disordered eating. I am interested in how feminism informs the body positivity movement, the experience of someone living with an eating disorder, and how the community can foster recovery.
As a former member of the eating disorder community on Tumblr, I feel that I have a unique perspective on this issue. I plan on using information from different social media platforms, informal interviews with members of both the feminist and ED communities, and other sources, such as young adult fiction, academic journals, and organizations such as NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association).
The instances of eating disorders is rising in our population, especially in young women. There are a multitude of studies examining the comorbidity and mortality rates associated with ED’s, and the statistics are sobering. Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental health issue, up to 20% (Eating Disorders Coalition, 2007), and rates are increasing across socioeconomic and ethnic groups. With the obvious obsession with thinness, especially in the mainstream media, and the rise of cyberbullying, young people are increasingly more susceptible to developing disordered eating habits. Current events, such as Aerie’s #aeriereal campaign and the abundance of “pro-ana” and “pro-mia” pages on blogging platforms are of particular interest to me, as they raise questions of bodily autonomy and society’s unrealistic expectations of young women.
As a survivor of an eating disorder, this project has personal significance to me. I hope to critically examine the role of social media on eating disorders, along with the role of feminism in both active eating disorders and recovery.