Conceptual framework: body image is conceptualised as a dynamic process, produced in context and in interaction (Frith & Gleeson, 2006).

Research questions:

  • What digital fictions already exist that may be relevant to body image? What are their characteristics?
  • What are the characteristics of digital fictions that young women like and dislike?
  • What are some of the key body image challenges that young women face?
  • How can these be reframed in ways that facilitate resilience?
  • What kind of digital fiction would work as a resource for young women to facilitate resilience in body image?

Method:  An internet survey of relevant digital fictions, on which feminist methods of reading were employed and three friendship focus groups with 16-20 year old young women (15 participants in total).

The friendship groups met five times to discuss digital fictions, talk about their body image concerns, and produce solutions to these challenges using techniques for creative and critical thinking.

The main technique we used for retelling stories was a solution focused activity in which we brainstormed an issue, working through the following questions in order:

1.What happened?-> 2. What I felt when it happened. -> 3. What did I do to make it happen? ->4. What I thought when it happened. ->5. How would I like to think about it? ->6. What would i need to do to make it different? ->7. What would happen if i changed it? ->8. How would I know it had changed/how would I feel?

This activity was developed by Stephanie Stafford Smith and is an adapted version of the learning pathways grid (see Rudolph, J.W., Taylor, S.S. & Foldy, E.G. (2001). Collaborative off-line reflection: A way to develop skill in action science and action inquiry. In, Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. (eds). Handbook of Action Research. London: Sage).

The friendship focus groups follow a small group action research method called ‘cooperative inquiry’, for more information see:

Reason, P. & Riley, S. (2008). Co-operative Inquiry: An action research practice. In, Jonathan Smith (Ed.), Qualitative Psychology: A Practical Guide to Methods. London: Sage Publications (2nd edition).

Riley, S. & Scharff, C. (2012) Feminism Vs femininity? Exploring feminist dilemmas through cooperative inquiry research. Feminism & Psychology. 23 (2)  doi: 10.1177/0959353512454615.