A little bit about me and my work

When thinking about where the best place was to start with my blogging, I decided starting with a brief overview would be best…

What was my motivation?

My initial motivation came from being a lesbian who has had previous experience of an eating disorder. I recognised that my eating disorder was largely related to my sexual orientation and my feelings about ‘coming out’.  When faced with the dilemma of what topic to base my undergraduate Psychology dissertation on … I took the opportunity to find out more about the subject. Upon finding that there was little research available about lesbians’ experiences of eating disorders I had the start of my research aims.

What research is out there?

Most research available about lesbians and eating disorders is about incidence rates and levels of body image, however whilst this research is useful I believe that it is really important to give lesbians and their experiences a voice, hence my research looked at lesbians’ experiences of anorexia and bulimia. Eating disorders involving weight gain were excluded from the research as much less is known about lesbians eating disorders which involve weight loss – possibly because it’s widely assumed that lesbians are less likely to develop eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

My research

There were many interesting aspects of my undergraduate research but the main findings were published in the Journal of Psychology and Sexuality. My undergraduate work now serves as a pilot study for my PhD – which hopes to use a wider more diverse sample.

See http://tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19419899.2011.603349 for the article.

The experiences that were shared in the undergraduate research highlighted the variety of experiences involved in lesbians’ anorexia and bulimia. It was interesting to see participants talking about meanings of their anorexic/bulimic experiences which were similar to that of previous research with heterosexual women, but participants also talked about meanings of their anorexic/bulimic experiences which were specific to being a lesbian/having a lesbian identity.

My views

I believe that everybody’s experiences are different, and can also change with time and situations. My pilot study demonstrated that lesbians’ anorexic/bulimic experiences can sometimes involve aspects related to having/recognising a lesbian/emerging lesbian identity (for example coming out) and this can impact upon lesbians’ experiences of anorexia and bulimia significantly. However, this does not mean that lesbians whose experiences do not necessarily involve having/recognising a lesbian/emerging lesbian identity are less important.

The future

I am currently just over the ‘one year’ mark of my PhD, which is part-time and self-funded.

So far, at least 25 participants have completed my first study and I am beginning to make the steps to analysing them. I have a second study coming soon involving scrapbooks……

So watch this space for more info!

Posted on by rebecca jones in Research

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