Anorexia, bulimia, death imagery next up in Ethics Center talk

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of Heather Schild.


KALAMAZOO—The connection between anorexia, bulimia and death imagery in the popular media will be under the microscope next week when the Western Michigan University Center for the Study of Ethics in Society continues its spring presentation series.

Heather D. Schild, a WMU doctoral student in sociology will speak at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, in the University Center for the Humanities, 2500 Knauss Hall. Her presentation, titled "Anorexia/Bulimia, Transcendence and the Potential Impact of Romanticized/Sexualized Death Imagery," is free and open to the public.

Schild will focus on how current trends in popular media, particularly geared toward female children and young adults, feature images of the dead or living dead. Often these images exist in tandem with romantic fictional narratives that cause these dead or living dead characters to be viewed as admirable, sexually desirable and romantically successful.

Schild will explore how these trends are currently being promoted on pro-anorexia and bulimia websites as encouragement to young women to continue their eating disordered behaviors. Ideas of transcendence beyond death to become the living dead serve to erase fears of death itself—one of the dangerous and very real consequences of eating disorders.

Schild hopes to increase awareness of such trends in popular culture and to promote further dialogue on these issues.

Heather Schild

Schild holds a bachelor's degree in communication from Ferris State University and a master's degree in communication from WMU with a focus on organizational and health communication. Her areas of research interest include issues surrounding bariatric surgery, the portrayal of the female body in popular media and holistic health approaches to body acceptance and spiritual growth.

Schild's presentation is co-sponsored by the WMU Department of Sociology and School of Communication.