Support - Understanding - Change

Feminism & eating issues

What does a ‘feminist approach’ to eating issues mean?

A feminist approach recognises that eating issues are caused by a complex interaction of socio-cultural, familial, individual and gender related factors.

While there is much that is unknown about eating issues, four key aspects have been identified.  These are:

  • The majority of people experiencing eating issues are women, however eating issues can affect people of any gender.
  • The common age of onset is during adolescence, however eating issues can also develop at other times in people’s lives and can be a response to     issues of control, conflict, trauma and loss in people’s lives.
  • While for some people there can be genetic factors such as a family history of eating and body image problems, there is actually no known biological cause of eating issues.
  • Eating issues occur predominately within Western countries.

(ref: Black, 2000)

The feminist perspective begins by exploring each of these factors in an attempt to understand women’s experiences of eating issues better. 

How does Isis use feminist principles?

Isis offers a range of therapies guided by feminist principles such as respect and empowerment in supporting individuals as well as promoting social awareness and change.

Issues of power and control are central to working with people and eating issues at Isis.  This is because the eating behaviour - or the person’s relationship with food and their body may have been used as a way to create a sense of control in her life.  


Feminist principles at Isis include:
  • Relationships are central
  • Valuing the person as the expert of their own life and recognising their expertise, strengths and skills they bring to their recovery journey.
  • Valuing the process as well as the outcomes in contributing to recovery.
  • Understanding the whole picture of people’s lives and making links between individual experiences and other people as well as the impact of the wider social and political context.


How do feminist principles affect how we help men, trangender and intersex people?

Isis understands that eating issues can affect anyone, and would like all people to feel comfortable accessing our services.

Being guided by feminist principles does not mean that we see men, trans or intersex people as less important in any way.  Our centre supports anyone expereiencing an eating issue in making informed choices about available support options and working towards recovery.

We focus on assisting people to find more helpful coping strategies to deal with conflict, pressures, and underlying issues that are relevant to them including exploration of individual, familial, social and gender related factors as determined by the person’s goals for support, and what interests them..


Men's Project

Isis has recently completed a pilot project focused on understanding and assisting men as well as tran and intersex people (aged 17+) with eating issues.

We are currently in the process of compiling the findings and will publish these on this website. (see Eating Issues Men’s Project under Research). 

Counselling services for men (and any gender) is available at Isis on Fridays.

Contact us to find out more about eating issues or to talk about your needs.


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