Connie Musolino is a current PhD candidate in the Faculty of Gender Studies and Social Analysis at the University of Adelaide. She is currently working on an ARC project titled Desire and denial: why are people with eating disorders reluctant to engage with treatment services?
Megan Warin, PhD, is an Associate Professor and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the Discipline of Gender Studies and Social Analysis, University of Adelaide, South Australia. As a medical anthropologist her research interests include theories of embodiment, obesity science (epigenetics and life course), class and gendered dynamics of health and illness, and social change practices.
Professor Tracey Wade is Dean of the School of Psychology at Flinders University. Her research and clinical interests are in the areas of eating disorders as well as perfectionism. She is on the steering committee of the National Eating Disorder Collaboration and is the academic lead of the Statewide Eating Disorder Service in South Australia.
Dr Peter Gilchrist is a psychiatrist in private practice. He was previously the clinical director of the eating disorders service at the Flinders Medical Centre and was involved with that unit from the time of its establishment in 1977.
Volume 33, November 2015
This paper explores the rise of disordered eating in a postfeminist world. Based on findings from an Australian Research Council grant that investigated why women with disordered eating were reluctant to engage with treatment services, we demonstrate how women embody postfeminist positions of choice and responsibility in their eating and body practices. Through applying Rosalind Gill’s (2007) concept of postfeminist sensibility to ethnographic accounts of women living with disordered eating, we argue that postfeminism, neoliberalism and healthism represent a constellation of contemporary forces which have unwittingly created an environment for disordered eating to flourish. Within the setting of lifestyle choice, postfeminist sensibilities support and rationalise women’s endeavours in their disordered eating practices. The pervasiveness of neoliberal ideas in a postfeminist world highlights that the rhetoric of choice as empowering disguises an increasing push for individual responsibility, particularly in the areas of health and fitness. Such ideas are reinforced in the self-monitoring and self-disciplining practices of participants who explain their practices as lifestyle choices. Investigating the ways in which women describe their disordered eating practices within a postfeminism space offers new and critical insights into why resistance to help seeking is common.