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Social Media and the Body: Exploring the Effects of Exposure on Body Image, Eating and Movement Behavior

Date: April 22nd, 2021

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Watch this 2-part research based webinar and learn from two leading researchers in the area of social media and the human body.

Part 1: During this session, Nicole presented the findings from her PhD dissertation which focuses on how, through collaborative effort and emotional care, she was able to transform her intersectional research on the social phenomena pro-anorexia/bulimia (pro-ana/mia) into a play. Nicole facilitated post-performance focus group and individual interviews with two specific audiences: those who identified with dis/ordered eating and professionals who work with people identifying with dis/ordered eating. Through centering audience participants’ narratives of dissent, resistance, complexity, multiplicity, contradiction, and rich nuance, she shared how their post-performance feedback destabilizes the totalizing power of Psychiatry, exposing how the institution has been structurally built with broader power inequalities and systemic violence. 

Part 2: During this session, Eva explored the effects of social media exposure and engagement on body image, eating behaviour, and movement behaviour (e.g., exercise). Psychological implications of social media engagement were discussed, along with evidence-based strategies to combat these deleterious effects. 


Nicole Danielle Schott

PhD(c) Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto

Nicole Danielle Schott is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Social Justice Education at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Her central research areas focus on dis/ordered eating, pro-anorexia/bulimia (pro-ana/mia), critical theory and intersectionality, and ethnographic and arts-based methodologies. Her PhD dissertation focuses on how, through collaborative effort and emotional care, she transformed her research on the social phenomena pro-ana/mia into a play and the post-performance audience conversations into research. Nicole’s work un-maps how modern capitalism, sexism, racism, ableism and sizeism operate in unison to produce women who starve, purge, abuse laxatives and hate their bodies, while highlighting the tremendous violence embedded in these practices. Further, her work critiques the institutional response of Psychiatry that has claimed ownership of the ‘problem.’ Nicole’s research that challenged the censorship of pro-ana/mia online was featured on Canada’s most listened-to radio program, CBC’s The Current where she was interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonti. She has publications in several peer-reviewed academic journals including, Media, Culture & Society; Journal of Social Justice; Critical Sociology; and Studies in Social Justice. Nicole has also worked as a Course Instructor in the Sociology Department and Women and Gender Studies Institute at U of T and in the Criminology Department at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is passionate about exploring alternative approaches to supporting others on their journeys toward content relationships with body image, food, eating and movement. Nicole is particularly interested in developing connections and fostering relationships with non-academic professionals who work in the fields of practice she studies. 

Dr. Eva Pila

Assistant Professor at the School of Kinesiology at Western University

Dr. Eva Pila is an Assistant Professor at Western University in the School of Kinesiology. Her academic background consists of a BSc in Kinesiology and Psychology at McMaster University, MSc in Exercise Science (Behavioural Stream) at McGill University/University of Toronto, PhD in Exercise Science (Behavioural Stream). She completed a joint postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Women’s College Hospital, and the University of Saskatchewan.

Dr. Pila’s research is founded in psychological perspectives in kinesiology, focusing on understanding body image and body (in)equity as it relates to movement, mental health and well-being.

​Specifically, her research seeks to understand relationships between body (in)equity on the basis of shape, size, weight, ability and function, movement-based behaviours including exercise, physical activity, and sport, and mental health, illness, and well-being. A main goal of this research is to develop psychological interventions, currently centred on self-compassion, to promote the health and well-being of individuals in marginalized bodies.

​Dr.Pila’s research integrates frameworks from health, exercise, social, and clinical psychology to understand conditions that disproportionately impact individuals in marginalized states (e.g., physical inactivity, weight stigma, eating disorders, mood disorders, breast cancer). 


Dr. Melissa Fernandez

Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Public Health, University of Alberta

Melissa Fernandez completed a PhD at Université Laval and an MSc at McGill University. She is currently a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Fellow at the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on understanding the impacts of digital food environments on health and nutrition with a particular interest in food literacy, dietary practices, and dietary intakes. She is passionate about conducting research that aims to understand how the Internet is influencing the way that we eat and how to help the public navigate evolving digital food environments. Melissa is actively conducting research on digital food retail (i.e., online groceries, food delivery apps, and meal kits), nutrition influencers, and nutrition (mis)information on social media. She is a registered dietitian, the Associate Editor / French Editor of the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, and is actively involved with the Canadian Nutrition Society. Melissa is committed to fostering collaborative and inclusive research and learning environments and mentoring trainees.


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