• Body image concerns affect the well-being of a generation who are coming of age immersed in digital culture. This is particularly true for young women and gender non-conforming individuals of diverse intersectional backgrounds who regularly confront appearance-related pressures. The “Writing New Bodies” project (“WNB”; SSHRC IG 435-2018-1036) addresses these issues by developing a literary story game (digital fiction; “DF”) for body image bibliotherapy. The planned DF encourages emotional and verbal engagement with various challenges facing young people today, including cis- and heteronormative gender relations, racism, anti-fat attitudes, ableism, and familial influences on the ways women “ought to look” (Rice, 2014). WNB uses interactive digital storytelling that deconstructs normative conceptions of power to help reader/players build resilience to external and internal body-related pressures.
    WNB’s methods of community co-design and feminist participatory action research engage woman-identified and gender non-conforming individuals ages 18-25 in envisioning a world where they feel at home in their bodies. In four participant workshops held in April-May 2019, the WNB team worked with a diverse, intersectional audience using methods of free writing, small group discussions, and multilinear game design. Workshop intervention called on participants to hyper-textualize body-related experiences and explore diverse options for an ontological reimagining of appearance-driven neoliberalist pressures.

    Our paper (video and accompanying essay) introduces the digital fiction resulting from our participant research. We will reflect on the creative process, from its basis inspired by the results of participant research to ludonarrative and interface design, software development and early play testing. Our reflections will include matters of intersectional diversity in developing a socially inclusive intervention tool for contemporary, digital-born bibliotherapy.