Date of Award

Summer 6-11-2019

Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Greig, Christopher


Body Image, Eating Disorders, Gender, Sexual Activity




Drawing from the insights provided by feminist theory, this study explored the relationship between eating disorders, body image, and sexual activity. The desire behind most individuals with eating disorders is to achieve a “perfect body” (Barth & Starkman, 2016). Key to this inquiry was to find out whether or not a positive body image led to an increase of sexual activity, and if a negative body image led to a decrease of sexual activity. Using a qualitative methodology, this study employed semi-structured interviews, participants expressed that on days they feel confident about their bodies, they were more likely to engage in sexual activity, and days they feel “fat” or bloated, they were less likely to engage in sexual activity. Results also found that gender norms, like having the “perfect body” were the cause of some eating disorders or unhealthy eating behaviours, while other causes such as sexual violence were revealed. Future researchers, clinicians, and teachers in the sexual health field can continue to educate individuals with eating disorders or body image issues, teaching them to think more carefully and thoughtfully around how gender and gender relations shapes attitudes toward sexual health.