Studying feminist theory could help eating disorder patients to recover

Eating disorders are complex and multifaceted illnesses, with a number of causes and manifestations. 

Experts in the area are constantly trying to improve the treatment methods for those suffering from eating disorders, and new research shows that studying feminist ideology could be of assistance. 

Now, researchers don't exactly mean reading The S.C.U.M Manifesto and being on your merry way. 

Experts have published a paper in the Journal of Eating Disorders which shows that a 10 week course discussing the portrayal of the female body and appetite could help sufferers to feel less to blame for their illnesses. 

Those who participated were more able to identify their problem within a broader cultural context after studying feminism. 

The group looked a gendered portrayals of appetite and discussed how females are expected to appear in society. 

Academics at the University of East Anglia carried out the programme on seven patients, none of which originally identified as feminists. 

They looked at Disney movies, TV ads and social media to establish how women are showcased and how that can relate back to diet and appetite. 

While participants found that the groups helped them to identify how social constructs of femininity impact their disorder, many felt that their disorder was the result of individual experience or issue, rather than a broader societal reason. 

'So [it is] less like, well there’s a model, a skinny model in a magazine, looking at that, you’ve been looking at that too much and so you just wanna’ be like them…' said one participant.

'I don’t agree with that at all. I think that completely trivialises it.'

Researchers concluded that gender issues are not addressed enough in the treatment of those with eating disorders.