Making Sense of Eating Disorders in Schools

Emma Rich, John Evans

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24 Citations (SciVal)


Over the last two decades we have witnessed an emerging set of conditions in schools which render them contexts replete with social messages about the body, health, and self. Research has suggested that both the formal and informal contexts of education are heavily imbued with a “culture of healthism” which places moral obligation and blame on individuals for their health/problem. In this paper we explore the ways in which young women with eating disorders constructed their identities within and against the various “health” discourses now found within schools. Data is presented from life history interviews with young women who have been diagnosed with anorexia and/or bulimia who were resident at a leading centre for the treatment of eating disorders in the UK. The experiences of the young women in the study point towards the ways in which schools, despite their best intentions, are implicated in constructing contexts which are inimical to the well-being of young women who have been diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia and perhaps others who are making sense of their bodies, health, and selves in these cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-262
Number of pages16
JournalDiscourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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