Exploring the lived experiences of eating disorder recovery and Instagram use : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

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While experiences of eating disorders have been explored in research for decades, there are still a number of stereotypes that are demonstrated in various research contexts. Historically, some of these storylines have been rooted in stereotypical versions of lived experiences of EDs and ED recovery. Often, these storylines have been limited to White, young women situated within the Western world affected by EDs of the undereating subtype, mainly anorexia. These representations of EDs have been particularly prominent in mainstream media, and at times replicated by research. Further, research on ED recovery and everyday use of the image-based platform Instagram is scarce, particularly in the context of exploring the nature of these lived experiences beyond corporeal markers of recovery. Social media users of networking sites such as Instagram have also often been positioned as vulnerable, suggestible, and passive consumers of written and visual information, especially within a critical feminism lens of media audiences. In this study, I seek to provide a nuanced perspective to the growing body of literature on ED recovery and Instagram use within a narrative thematic framework of analysis. The findings demonstrate that stories of ED recovery are created and experienced by affected individuals who occupy diverse spaces of sociocultural belonging. Additionally, Instagram users, particularly young, female, avid users who have a story to tell about their ED recovery, are more than capable of exercising and do exercise volitional control in their daily Instagram use in order to negotiate such constraining dialogues around who is affected by EDs, and therefore who has access to the domain of ED recovery. Lastly, this study speaks to the notion that heterogeneous trajectories of recovery tell a story far beyond the individuals themselves, suggesting that ED recovery narratives are intrinsically bounded by other overarching dialogues that permeate digital platforms like Instagram, namely those gesturing at neoliberalism and healthism biopedagogies.