Two studies were conducted to assess appearance‐related visual processing mechanisms in populations at risk of disorders characterized by body image disturbance. Using inverted stimuli, Experiment 1 assessed visual processing mechanisms associated with body, face, and house viewing in adolescents. Experiment 2 applied the same protocol to assess appearance‐related configural processing in high‐ and low‐risk adolescent women, and women recovering from disorders characterized by body image disturbance. Experiment 1 found evidence for typical configural face and body processing, although adolescent women reported higher levels of body image concern (BIC) and self‐objectified to a greater extent than adolescent men. In Experiment 2, typical body inversion effects were seen in the low‐risk group, whilst there was some evidence to suggest a disruption to the configural processing of body stimuli in high‐risk adolescents and in women recovering from body image disorders. Women in recovery were also quicker to respond to all stimuli, whilst high‐risk adolescents took longer to respond to bodies than to other stimuli. Configural face processing was intact in all groups, and effects did not directly relate to BIC or self‐objectification. These findings have implications for future research looking to inform early interventions and treatment, suggesting that there could be a tendency to visually process individual body parts at the expense of the whole‐body form in women at risk of developing body image disorders, as well as those in recovery.