Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Communication Studies

First Advisor

Elizabeth A. Suter

Second Advisor

Ramona Beltran

Third Advisor

Mary Claire Morr Loftus

Fourth Advisor

Joshua Hanan


Counter-narrative, Eating disorder, Embodiment, Master narrative, Narrative, Women


Eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, affect approximately 20 million women in the United States (National Eating Disorders Association, 2022d). The dominant approach to studying eating disorders is based on the master narrative of biomedicine. The present dissertation examines the existing master narrative by investigating the meaning that women themselves ascribe to their eating disorder experiences. Drawing upon notions of embodiment, the present dissertation proposes narrative theorizing as an appropriate lens through which to view women’s narrative sense-making processes and employs narrative research methods. Using a modified version of McAdams’ (2008b) life story interview protocol, I interviewed 21 women and analyzed their eating disorder life stories according to two analysis techniques – Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analytic method and Yamasaki et al.’s (2014) approaches to narrative analysis. In narrating their eating disorder life stories, women offer an important counter-narrative to the master narrative of biomedicine. Five themes emerged from analysis, including it’s not an individual illness, nor a sociocultural sickness, it’s a feminine fable; it’s not what you (don’t) eat, it’s what eats you; it’s not one size fits all, it’s one size fits one; it’s not about being sick enough, it’s about being sick; and it’s not eradicable, it’s ineradicable. In presenting these themes and their corresponding tenets, I develop a more comprehensive story of women’s eating disorder experiences. Finally, I discuss the present dissertation project by summarizing the main conclusions drawn, including enhancing diversification of eating disorder research, highlighting complexities of studying counter-narratives, and supporting women’s efforts to counter-narrate their own eating disorder experiences.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Kelsea V. Schoenbauer


Received from ProQuest

File Format



English (eng)


213 pgs

File Size

13.0 MB


Communication, Women's studies

Available for download on Saturday, July 19, 2025