From ‘disorder’ to political action: Conversations that invite collective considerations to individual experiences of women who express concerns about eating and their bodies by Kristina Lainson

Concerns about eating and its effects on bodies are often articulated in terms of individualised pathologies. This video describes an interweaving of narrative practices which has proved helpful for a number of women experiencing such concerns. By inviting collective considerations to their individual experiences, and by recognising and naming their existing commitments and agentive responses to societal expectations, it became more possible to move away from ideas of ‘stuckness’ towards a sense of being influential both in their own life, and possibly in the lives of others similarly concerned.

Kristina is a Narrative Therapist based in Aotearoa New Zealand. Most of her work to date has been in a small community based counselling service. She is currently working on a PhD in which she hopes to unsettle some of the less helpful discourses about people whose lives are impacted by ‘anorexia’.


Further Reading

Denborough, D. (2008). Collective Narrative Practice. Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.

Kitzinger, C., & Perkins, R. (1993). Changing our minds: Lesbian feminism and psychology. New York, USA: New York University.

Saukko, P. (2008). ‘I Feel Ridiculous About Having Had it’ – Critical Readings of Lived and Mediated Stories on Eating Disorders. (Chapter 2). In M. Riley, M. Burns, H. Frith, S. Wiggins & P. Markula (Eds). Critical Bodies: Representations, Identities and Practices of Weight and Body Management. Basingstoke UK: Palgrave Macmillan. [Book Chapter]

Published September 30, 2016

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Catherine Pallin

    Thankyou for this skillful use of words. I have become disillusioned with counselling, but Narrative Therapy offers something different, new questions coming from a respectful place of not-knowing,without a defined end. I feel inspired.

  2. Liz Gow

    Thank you so much Kristina for such an inspiring and enlightening teaching. I really was struct by how much I have perhaps positioned myself as giving the body image challenge strength in terms of it having a stronger impact on a person and although may explore when a person has stood up to some of what does not work for them in terms of agency, I really valued hearing how conversations can occur with agency moving from I/we. I loved the analogy of weaving these 4 strands over and again. Thanks again.

    1. Kristina Lainson

      Hi Liz
      I agree with you, ‘body image’ can take on so much importance. I wonder if that’s supported by ideas that we should be working towards ‘good body image,’ which can become an obligation in itself. Perhaps that, in part, adds to the strength it seems to gain in conversations sometimes. A small act of resistance in my own life is questioning the usefulness of ‘body image’ as a concept at all. I really appreciate your reflections, thank you.

      1. Liz Gow

        Dearest Kristina, so lovely to see you. Donald shared your link with me. Awesome. I know I saw it a while ago. I am currently doing a provider certification with Be They maybe people you would enjoy having conversations.

        They are very much up in the world of discourses and hold strong values around discrimination and believe the body images is harmful to suggest to others as it has an implication that there is something wrong with a person and it does not even begin to touch on what that may stand for and how it can only exist from outside influences.

        They prefer to look at body acceptance whilst strongly support insights into how these ideas are shaped. My world is being so rocked at the moment in the political and social justice realm where to be honest I have never really ventured before.

        I am week 15 of a 25 weeks study. I attended 5 days training in Portland, Oregon and a 6 week on line course about that. It would be so neat for us to perhaps meet up even on skype or zoom or something if you wish. This is very much US based and so prevalent for here too. Hope your studies are going well. 🙂

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