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Community reflections in the House of Mirrors Pilot Project Coutts, Lara Marlaine

Abstract

Researchers have identified the need to explore the context in which disordered eating is a reasonable response to violence and socio-cultural expectations, and the need for prevention programs that link fat phobia with other forms of oppression (Burstow, 1992; Herman, 1997; Orbach, 1994; Piran, 1999; Sesan, 1994; Steiner-Adair, 1994, Thompson, 1992). To date, the House of Mirrors Community Development Pilot Project (the "HOM") is the only community-based program in Canada that addresses these issues. The HOM is a visual arts installation of twenty-six full-length mirrors onto which women, girls and artists of various cultures, ages, and body types portrayed how violence and fat phobia have impacted their lives. The purpose of this multiple method study was to assess the efficacy of the HOM as a facilitator of working relationships between the health, business, art, and education sectors in Campbell River, B.C. The process was documented in two focus group interviews with five members of the HOM Subcommittee and in a survey of the HOM subcommittee and the Eating Disorder Program Advisory Committee. Evaluating the project's effectiveness distinguished different levels of community involvement as connections, relationships, and partnerships. The evaluation highlights differences between prevention and community development initiatives and the need for an emphasis on partnership building in social work. This knowledge will be used to inform future policy and practice decisions.

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