Eating Disorders: The Perceptions of Young Women and Social Media Portrayal

By Arushi Verma and Maria-Irini Avgoulas.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: November 2, 2015 $US5.00

Eating disorders are a major public health concern, as they are associated with harmful health behaviours and high mortality rates. Researches examining eating disorders have either adopted a quantitative approach, thus preventing knowledge on the lived experience of the disorder, or have only explored patients’ perspectives of recovery from the illness. The aim of this qualitative research was to identify how young women conceptualise eating disorders and to investigate how the media discusses and presents eating disorders. This study has utilised in-depth interviews and social media to generate a detailed understanding of how eating disorders are perceived among the general female population, and among those who have either recovered or currently live with an eating disorder. Ten female university students took part in this study and data was also collected from four online blogs on eating disorders. The results indicated that having a personal experience with eating disorders significantly influences the perception one has of the illness. Furthermore, the media’s glamorisation of thinness was seen as a major contributor to eating disorders and blogs were believed to be a source of support and encouragement.

Keywords: Eating Disorders, Social Media, Young Women, Public Health Concern

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 5, Issue 4, December 2015, pp.95-103. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: November 2, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 619.605KB)).

Arushi Verma

Masters Student, Department of Community Health, School of Public Health and Human Biosciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr. Maria-Irini Avgoulas

PhD Candidate, Associate Lecturer, School of Psychology and Public Health, College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia