Friday Keynote

Privilege and the Body: From Critical Awareness to Enhanced Equity and Acceptance


The presentation invites participants to read the body as social text and use this critical knowledge as a guide towards social and personal transformations. In order to read the body as social text, the presentation will examine girls’ drawings and narratives to clarify embodied representations of privilege at the intersection of gender, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, ability, and age. The presentation will also describe ways in which social privilege is maintained through social expectations about appearance and behavior, and through prejudicial treatment. However, the body can be used to challenge the status quo. The presentation will therefore continue by suggesting strategies to counter the transmission of societal privilege through the representation of bodies. Discussed strategies will include, for example, utilizing children’s own drawings or toys to develop resistance to cultural representations, fostering norms of acceptance in children’s groups, conducting critical dialogues with children and enlisting them to develop alternative media as well as engage in advocacy.



Niva Piran is a Professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Academy of Eating Disorders. She is the co-editor of three books on the treatment and prevention of eating disorders: A Day Hospital Group Treatment Program for Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, Preventing Eating Disorders: A Handbook of Interventions and Special Challenges, and Preventing eating-related and weight-related disorders: Collaborative Research, Advocacy, and Policy Change. Dr. Piran is also internationally recognized for her innovative work on body image development and on embodiment. She is the recipient of research and mentorship awards, such as the Florence Denmark Distinguished Mentorship Award of the Association of Women in Psychology and the Lori Irving Award for Research Excellence in Eating Disorders of the National Eating Disorder Association. Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Dr. Piran is currently completing her next book, entitled, Journeys of Embodiment at the Intersection of Body and Culture: The Developmental Theory of Embodiment to be published with Elsevier Press.