College of Arts and Sciences



Faculty Mentor

Harriet Phinney, PhD

Faculty Editor

Harriet Phinney, PhD

Student Editor

Celeste Salopek


Transitional periods have been identified as potential triggers for eating disorders in college students (Karges 2016). Risk factors for eating disorders can be biological, psychological, and sociocultural (National Eating Disorder Association 2018). The sociocultural risk of eating disorders includes weight stigma which, according to feminist philosopher Susan Bordo, can greatly impact the self-image of North American women. Bordo refers to the “ideal” female body as the “slender body,” one that is reflected and glorified in contemporary media (1993). Although undergraduate women are a potentially fragile population, as they are away from their childhood eating and exercise routines and in an environment that provides an onslaught of perfected images, Seattle University informants described the university as being a healthier climate for body positivity than other universities. However, each of the informants also described using the weightlifting area of the campus fitness center as an uncomfortable experience. Informants ascribed their overall positive perception of the university to the absence of Greek life, widespread acceptance of cultural attitudes, and support from likeminded friends. Informants described other sociocultural factors that shaped their habits and body-image, including social media and at-home education about nutrition and exercise. By applying Bordo’s framework about gender and body image and examining the psychosocial impacts of objectification theory, this project seeks to unpack the various sociocultural factors that shape the way that three undergraduate women at Seattle University have come to form their body image, eating habits, and exercise routines as college students.