Eating disorders in the workplace:
A qualitative investigation of
Though employment is typically associated with positive mental health outcomes for individuals with disabilities, the ubiquity of stress and stigma at work may complicate the relation between work and well-being for women with eating disorders (EDs). To date, however, the experiences of women with EDs in the workplace have not been examined. By utilizing a qualitative methodology to form an initial framework for the examination of EDs in the workplace, we address this gap in the literature. Seventy adult women with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder discussed the relation between work and their condition. The data analysis led to the delineation of a theoretical model, which we propose explains the interconnections between key study constructs, including individual characteristics; workplace stressors; identity, stigma, and stress management techniques; and related personal and organizational outcomes. Our research suggests that, depending on how stress is managed, the workplace can serve as a bridge or a barrier to ED recovery. This study lays the groundwork for understanding the ways in which workplace life interacts and interferes with ED management, opening up a new line of investigation for researchers working to enhance the lives of individuals with EDs across life domains.
Masculine qualities are highly prized in the workplace, and men who deviate from these standards may experience personal and organizational backlash for their inability or unwillingness to perform masculinity. Additionally, those with mental health problems face complications managing their conditions at work due to organizational and interpersonal challenges. In the current study, we examine the intersection of masculinity and mental health in the workplace, focusing specifically on White men with eating disorders (EDs), who may experience (or perceive) compounded stigma, both for having a psychological disorder and for struggling with a mental health condition that is stereotyped as feminine. Although the experiences of individuals with EDs at work have been understudied in general, the experiences of working men with EDs are virtually nonexistent in the psychological literature. To fill this gap, 14 White men were interviewed about their experiences navigating their EDs at work. Participants faced unique challenges in managing their conditions while attempting to perform masculinity appropriately in the workplace. Through a thematic analysis of these interviews, four major emergent themes were identified: fear of stigma and (non)disclosure, emotional reactions, coping strategies, and impaired work performance. The vigilance required to both remain undetected as an individual coping with an ED combined with the pressure to perform masculinity at work made work life especially challenging for men afflicted with these conditions. Implications for organizations, clinicians, and men with EDs are discussed.
Conformity to feminine norms and self-objectification in self-identified feminist and nonfeminist women
This study investigated the association between the endorsement of feminine gender role norms and self-objectifying beliefs and behaviors in self-identified feminist and non-feminist women. One hundred and ninety-seven predominantly White heterosexual cisgender women attending a large university in southwestern Canada completed the study questionnaires for course credit. A one-way ANOVA demonstrated no differences in self-objectification between self-identified feminist and non-feminist women. Compared to non-feminist women, however, feminist women were less likely to endorse feminine norms for sexual fidelity, romantic relationships, and domesticity. Regression analyses indicated more endorsement of thinness, investment in appearance, and romantic relationships and less endorsement of domesticity accounted for unique variance in self-objectification. Overall, this study provides further evidence for the association between endorsement of feminine norms, especially the norms for beauty and romance, and the adoption of an objectified self-view, even among feminist women.
The protective role of self-compassion for women’s positive body image: an open replication and extension
The development and maintenance of positive body image in women may be disrupted by sociocultural appearance-related pressures. Therefore, it is critical to explore factors that may safeguard women’s positive body image. A recent study by Homan and Tylka (2015) found that in a large sample (N = 263) of female MTurk workers and university-aged women, both appearance-contingent self-worth and body-based social comparisons were linked to less positive body image, but these links were attenuated in the face of high self-compassion. This research, an independent direct replication of the original study,supported the original findings. In a new, larger sample (N = 363 female-identified MTurk workers), signals were detected that were similar in size and magnitude to the original study. Specifically, while appearance-contingent self-worth and body-based social comparisons were negatively linked to body appreciation, those who endorsed higher levels of self-compassion reported a more positive body image,even in the presence of these potential threats. Findings are extended to eating- and exercise-based social comparisons. All materials, including the replication protocol, data management plan, dataset, SPSS syntax, and output are publicly available on the Open Science Framework at: for research and practice are discussed.
Eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine: an overview of risks and recommendations for treatment and early intervention
Individuals with eating disorders (EDs) are at significant risk for increases in symptomatology and diminished treatment access during the COVID-19 pandemic. Environmental precautions to limit coronavirus spread have affected food availability and access to healthy coping mechanisms, and have contributed to weight-stigmatizing social media messages that may be uniquely harmful to those experiencing EDs. Additionally, changes in socialization and routine, stress, and experiences of trauma that are being experienced globally may be particularly deleterious to ED risk and recovery. This paper presents a brief review of the pertinent literature related to the risk of EDs in the context of COVID-19 and offers suggestions for modifying intervention efforts to accommodate the unique challenges individuals with EDs and providers may be experiencing in light of the ongoing public health crisis.
Smile pretty and watch your back: Personal safety anxiety in objectification theory
Objectification Theory posits that everyday encounters with sexual objectification carry a diffuse nonspecific sense of threat that engenders personal safety anxiety in women. In this article, we provide direct evidence for this tenet across 5 studies and 1,665 participants using multiple methods. Study 1 (N = 207) and Study 2 (N = 161) explored and confirmed the factor structure of the Personal Safety Anxiety and Vigilance Scale (PSAVS), a measure of personal safety anxiety, and provided evidence for the reliability and construct validity of its scores. Study 3 (N 363) showed that personal safety anxiety is a conceptually different construct for women and men, and differentially mediated the relation between sexual objectification and restricted freedom of movement and the relation between self-objectification and restricted freedom of movement for women and men. Study 4 (N 460) included a comprehensive test of personal safety anxiety within an expanded Objectification Theory model, which supported personal safety anxiety as a mediator of the links from sexual and self-objectification to women’s restricted freedom of movement. Study 5 (N 474) replicated these results while also adjusting for specific fears of crime and rape. Our findings offer a newly validated assessment tool for future research on safety anxiety, illuminate the real and lasting sense of threat engendered by everyday sexual objectification, and broaden understanding of the mental and physical constraints on women’s lived experiences posited in Objectification Theory
"It really presents a struggle for females, especially my little girl": Exploring fathers' experiences discussing body image with their young daughters
Body dissatisfaction in children, particularly young girls, is a growing concern around the world. The home environment can have a strong influence on children’s well-being, and parents may contribute to their children’s positive or negative body image development. Nearly all research on parent influence on body image has focused on mothers, leaving fathers’ attitudes and experiences poorly-understood. To address this gap in the literature, we interviewed 30 fathers (Mage = 40.30; SD = 7.48) of girls between the ages of 5 and 10 about the conversations they have with their daughters regarding body image. Through thematic analysis, we identified three primary themes: barriers to effective communication, combating negative influences, and strategies for discussing body image. Fathers recognized the importance of talking about body image with their daughters, yet many did not feel confident or competent to do so effectively. They engaged in a variety of strategies to combat adverse cultural influences and encourage self-expression, character development, and mental and physical health in their daughters. However, messages about health were sometimes conflated with messages about thinness or food restriction. Implications for families and future research are discussed.
Sexual violence, including rape, is a pervasive problem on college campuses in the United States. Although men perpetrate the majority of sexual violence, men’s attitudes, experiences, and perspectives are not typically included in research on rape and sexual violence. We addressed this empirical gap through our mixed-methods analysis of 365 college-aged men’s definitions of the term “rape.” Our analysis via consensual qualitative research revealed that men’s definitions fit into nine primary domains: lack of consent, taken advantage of, sex, sexual activity, unwanted, gender/sex-specific, harm to victim, relationship, and emotional response, as well as a miscellaneous domain. Further, using chi-square tests of independence, we compared responses from men with and without histories of sexual violence perpetration. Findings showed that the definitions generated by men with a history of perpetration were less likely to include nonpenetrative sexual violence and were more likely to use gender/sex-specific language. We conclude that most young men have a generally accurate understanding of rape, though perpetrators’ understandings may be somewhat narrower and more limited than those without a history of perpetration. We end with recommendations for refocusing sexual education curricula to better aid in the prevention of sexual violence perpetration. Specifically, given that (most) men know what rape is, educators should emphasize the cultural and situational factors that make rape more likely so all people can reduce the risk of sexual violence and take proactive precautions to prevent it.