Proposal and Annotated Bibliography


The proposed topic for this research topic is the impact of diet culture and media on eating disorders in young women in the late 20th to early 21st century. This project attempts to explore how the emergence of diet culture and an increased media presence impacted young women with eating disorders. Diet culture that is portrayed in the media can be especially harmful to young women, as it often presents women in the media in an ideal shape or size. A standard is then set, which is usually quite unrealistic for women to achieve. For some women who are already predisposed to an eating disorder, whether it be anorexia, bulimia, or another common mental illness, diet culture can have a much larger impact. While diet culture and its presence in mainstream media has the capacity to impact all people, this project will be focused on women who have diagnosed eating disorders. This project will mostly involve using personal narratives from those who have suffered from eating disorders, including “The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America” and “Anorexia Nervosa and Recovery: A Hunger for Meaning.” The use of personal stories of journeys through an eating disorder provides a more in-depth look at the root causes of eating disorders. Specifically for women, there is further societal pressure to have a certain appearance. Therefore utilizing sources which are specific in tracing the causes for young women and their struggles with eating disorders, it will assist the paper in supplying more central evidence for the argument of the paper. Through the use of these kinds of sources and other important one’s in the field, this research project will attempt to explain the historical rise of diet culture and media and its connection to young women with eating disorders.


Biederman , Alyssa. My Rory: A Personal Journey Through Teenage Anorexia. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2005.

            This book is written from the perspective of a teenage girl suffering from anorexia. It takes the reader through the mind of a young girl who is struggling through disease and attempting to recover from it. This is a unique read in that it allows the reader to try to grasp what the mindset of a young person working through a major eating disorder looks like. It is a brief look into the mind of anorexia and illustrates the struggle to get out of the hole of anorexia.

Binstock, Melissa. Nourishment: Feeding My Starving Soul When My Mind and Body Betrayed Me. Deerfield Beach: Health Communications, Inc., 2001.

            Melissa Binstock provides the reader with a full overview of living with mental illness from a young age. Binstock suffers from a multitude of different mental ailments, including anorexia nervosa has been diagnosed with such since the age of eleven. The suffering of a young girl into womanhood provides a story of growth and recovery. The importance of this kind of personal story is found in that teenage years are often when humans are most susceptible to influence of peers and media. Since Binstock was predisposed to mental illness, the combination of entering her teenage years in a more vulnerable state gives an honest glance at the reality of a young woman’s life impacted by mental illness.

Burns, Maree, and Helen Malson. Critical Feminist Approaches to Eating Disorders. New York: Routledge, 2009.

            This book focuses on the specific details of eating disorders as it pertains to women. This kind of secondary perspective is important in the academic field of eating disorders as it provides a further insight on the causes and treatment of eating disorders. With the specific feminist critique of approaches to eating disorders, the authors highlight the connection between broader cultural norms for women and the realities of mental illness. The book is more specific in its exploration of the feminist movement and how the treatment of eating disorders fit into the modern feminist movement.


            This journal article is a brief analysis of an Instagram page which is targeted at making light of diet culture. The article goes through certain posts and themes of the Instagram page and analyses the pros and cons of the humor approach to diet culture. It also points out the significance of an Instagram page directed at the negative aspects of diet culture. As it exemplifies a shifting tide of diet culture and its slow removal from mainstream thinking in the US. This article serves as an important tool in looking at the slow shift away from diet culture and the ways in which people are attempting to do so.

Doney, Faith M, Jonathan Lee, Ani Sarkisyan, Emilio J Compte, Jason M Nagata, Eric R Pedersen, and Stuart B Murray. “Eating Disorder Risk Among College Sorority and Fraternity Members Within the United States.” Eating Disorders 31, no. 5 (2023): 440–49.

            This journal article provides a different look at the culture of eating disorders in the US, by looking specifically at Sororities and Fraternities. In looking at these organizations who have a history of toxic culture within them, it gives a different side of diet culture that isn’t usually included. The article goes through the different ways in which eating disorder culture is present and swept under the rug in these collegiate communities. With such a large concentration of young people, the focus is more specific to the 18-22 age range. The specificity of the article allows the reader to gain a greater understanding of eating disorders in the collegiate environment as well as young people’s experience with them.

Halban, Emily. Perfect: Anorexia and Me. London: Vermilion, 2008.

            Halban’s personal narrative about her journey of anorexia gives the reader an in-depth look at the effects and struggle to recover from anorexia as a young woman. Her struggle with anorexia starts towards the end of high school and the book details the causes of her eating disorder to her eventual first step towards recovery during her senior year of college. Perfect captures the internal thoughts and the external effects of suffering from anorexia, it allows those without the experience of an eating disorder to gain a greater understanding and further empathy for those that do.

Hansen, Kathryn. Why I Was Bulimic, Why Conventional Therapy Didn’t Work, and I Recovered For Good. Phoenix: Camellia Publishing, 2011.

            Kathryn Hansen’s memoir detailing her journey with bulimia provides the reader with a greater understanding of the complexities of mental illness. The uniqueness of Hansen’s situation adds an aspect to the book that captures the vast spectrum of mental illness, but eating disorders specifically. Because the traditional modes of therapy weren’t effective for Hansen, her road to recovery is detailed differently than many other personal narratives written about eating disorders. Hansen’s description of events gives readers a glance into the experience of bulimia and the struggle it takes to recover from it.

Hornbacher, Marya. Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. New York: Harper Collins, 1999.

            This memoir of details the experience of being diagnosed with two major eating disorders, which is a combination that most who struggle with eating disorders don’t find themselves dealing with. Hornbacher’s experience with these two illnesses from a young age illustrate the struggle of growing up and figuring out how an eating disorder fits in with age. Her eventual recovery from anorexia and bulimia allow the reader to further understand the struggles of each and the long process of realizing help is necessary.

Howard-Taylor, Lucy. Biting Anorexia: A Firsthand Account of an Internal War. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2009.

            This book is a personal narrative which focuses on the internal conflict of battling an eating disorder. By nature a mental illness is a war within yourself, but Howard-Taylor takes the explanation of this a step further by providing context and background of this experience. She takes the readers along with the thought process of someone battling an eating disorder and complex process to reaching recovery. This memoir, with much of the writing is taken from her diary’s, Howard-Taylor demonstrates the long road to recovery and the benefits of seeking treatment.

Kingsley, Jo and Alice. Alice in the Looking Glass: A Mother and Daughter’s Experience of Anorexia. London: Piatkus Books, 2005.

            A unique narrative of eating disorders, this book is a collaborative piece between a daughter who struggled with an eating disorder and the experience of her mother watching her struggle with the mental illness. This detailed book outlines the struggle of someone suffering from Anorexia and the simultaneous hurt that comes from being in close relationship with a person who is self-sabotaging in a major way. The back and forth between the mother and daughter illustrates an experience not uncommon among many young women and their mothers. This memoir gives insight into those outside the eating disorder and the internal struggle of someone with anorexia.

Knopp, Lisa. Bread: a Memoir of Hunger. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2016.

            This book is focused on the life of an older woman affected by anorexia. Her narrative explains her journey with an eating disorder, which begins at fifty-four again, having already suffered from disordered eating in her 20s. Her memoir focuses on her push to find the cause for her anorexia and she looks closely at the links that can be made between eating disorders, women, and age. This writing by Knopp provides a glance into how mental illnesses are never quite cured, but are often a lifelong struggle for those diagnosed. Both with her personal experience with eating disorders and the look into the general causes, it gives the reader a full encapsulation of someone that is dealing with the never-ending struggle of an eating disorder.

McKay, George. “Skinny Blues: Karen Carpenter, Anorexia Nervosa and Popular Music.” Popular Music 37, no. 1 (2018): 1–21.

            This journal article is a focused look at culture and the intersection with eating disorders. For many artists, their craft is a way to express themselves and what they are going through. In this writing, McKay explores the link between Carpenter’s struggle with anorexia and her music. In addition to the specifics of Carpenter’s music, the article looks at the overall trend of popular music and the underlying theme of eating disorders that can often make their way into songs. This article is a different perspective of eating disorders than many articles, as it is much more specific in its look at the cause and presence of eating disorders in popular music.

Pettit, Christie. Empty: A Story of Anorexia. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2006.

            This memoir by Christie Pettit is taken from her personal diary’s with supplemental material added by her. It is a narrative about Pettit’s journey of recovering from disordered eating and her use of religion as a means to cope and recover from it. It is written as more of a self-help book, for those also struggling with anorexia to use as a guide to recover. Her strong faith is credited to her eventual recovery from her eating disorder, which differs from the traditional recovery plans. She points to the broader community of women as understanding her struggle with eating and looks to encourage others to break through the cultural pressures to look a certain way.

Rivera, Erica. Insatiable: A Young Mother’s Struggle with Anorexia. New York: Berkley, 2010.

            Erica Rivera’s story is a powerful narrative about the power of eating disorders and the pressure that is placed upon keeping mental illness under wraps. Her memoir details her secret struggles with eating, all while seemingly checking off the boxes of the suburban American dream. She doesn’t seek recovery until her daughters start to emulate her same destructive behavior. The book paints the picture of eating disorder culture and the struggle to break the cycle of negative body view and disordered eating within broader culture but also within families.

Rozgonjuk, Dmitri, Johanna Ignell, Franziska Mech, Eva Rothermund, Harald Gündel, and Christian Montag. “Smartphone and Instagram Use, Body Dissatisfaction, and Eating Disorders: Investigating the Associations Using Self-Report and Tracked Data.” Journal of Eating Disorders 11, no. 1 (2023).

            This journal article is specific in looking at social media and the impact that it has on those with eating disorders. The use of social media is often generalized as having an impact on the way that people view themselves, often having a negative impact on body image. The specific look at Instagram allows for a more targeted view of social media impact. In addition, since social media is still a fairly new development, the recent publishing of the article allow for a more realistic look at the effect.

Sacker, Ira M., and Marc A. Zimmer. Dying to Be Thin. New York, NY: Warner Books, 1987.

            Sacker and Zimmer’s Dying to Be Thin is a more dated publishing of anorexia and bulimia and the respective treatments for each mental illness. It is written as a guide to recovering individuals, focusing on the hope and fulfillment that recovery from eating disorders bring. In addition to serving those struggling with disordered eating, it also explores the difficulty of being a friend or family member of someone with an eating disorder. The inclusion of both of these aspects make this book applicable still today and allow its use as an important tool for all.

Sole-Smith, Virginia. The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2018.

            This book by Virginia Sole-Smith is an in-depth look at the effects of diet culture and the desire to be thin in America. The book explores the deep root that unhealthy food culture has in our media and our societal norms. In looking at the impact of the media, government, and large companies, she visits households around the US finding the explanations for the toxic culture surrounding food that has come to grip America. The nuances of this book are bountiful in addressing more than just the media as a cause for the disordered eating and unhealthy food culture present in many peoples lives.

Swenson, Rae. Linger No Longer: A Memoir of Anorexia. Charleston, SC: Booksurge Publishing, 2009.

            The recount of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia serves as a look into the complexities of the illness. With many of the book’s pages being taken from Swenson’s journal, it is an honest tale of anorexia and the many causes for the struggle. The eventual recovery of Swenson is credited to the urge to find the most authentic version of herself in order to break free from the struggle. It serves as a look into the most vulnerable parts of anorexia and also a comfort to those who also know the suffering of self-destruction.

Way, Karen. Anorexia Nervosa and Recovery : a Hunger for Meaning. New York: Routledge, 2013.

            This book by Karen Way is focused on presenting the whole picture of anorexia and the causes of it. Taken from her own struggles with the illness, it centers on the need for control as the desire that steers anorexia. In recovering from the illness, she speaks about the hardship of letting go of control and finding the most authentic version of herself. In presenting a complete picture of the many causes and effects of anorexia, she goes into more depth about more than just the base layer of anorexia and gives those outside of it a look inside.

Zipfel, Stephan, Andreas Stengel, Stephan Zipfel, Andreas Stengel, and Katrin Giel. Anorexia Nervosa. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI – Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021.

            This book is an overview of anorexia and the many causes and effects of the mental illness. It is based on scientific insight and research and provides the reader with a basic understanding anorexia nervosa. The recent publishing of the book ensures the up-to-date information and new findings about anorexia. Anorexia Nervosa gives a broad look at the causes of anorexia and the intricacies of the mental illness.

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