Rebecca Erin Belinsky, Ph.D., is a 2023 graduate of the PhD Program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Kristi Harrison, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Erin Harrop, PhD, Committee Member
  • Amy Blanchard, PhD, Committee Member


eating disorders, weight stigma, family, intimate partners, relationships, Health At Every Size®, larger bodied people

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Eating Disorders are the second deadliest mental illness, after opioid addiction, and affect a significant amount of the population, with some studies estimating that almost one in ten people will struggle with an eating disorder in their lifetime and that many more will suffer from subclinical eating disorder symptoms like disordered eating (Deloitte Access Economics, 2020). The majority of people struggling with an eating disorder are not medically underweight, and traditionally eating disorder research and treatment has failed to address eating disorders in people in larger bodies (Galmiche et al., 2019). To better understand the needs and experiences related to eating disorders in people in larger bodies, research needs to explore the emotional, relational, and psychological impact of experiences of weight stigma in people in larger bodies who are recovering from an eating disorder/eating-related distress. Specifically, there is little information about how experiences of weight stigma during eating disorder recovery impacts the course of recovery, and particularly stigma from family and partners. Accordingly, this qualitative phenomenological research aims to understand said experiences. The study consisted of semi-structured interviews with 12 participants yielding results comprised of four themes and 16 subthemes. The four primary themes are: It Matters That It Comes From Family, It’s Different When You’re Fat, Weight Stigma Harms Relationships, and Relationships Heal. The results highlight the importance of understanding the pervasive and lasting impact that family relationships have on people in the context of eating disorders and the specific experiences of people in larger bodies. Similarly, the results clearly show the importance of relationships in recovery overall. The results and subsequent discussion shed light on the importance of working directly with and combatting weight stigma at the family system and societal levels in order to create more significant and meaningful change for people struggling with eating-related distress, and particularly for people in larger bodies.


Rebecca Erin Belinsky

ORCID Scholar ID# 0009-0001-8213-6678