Eating Disorders, Body Image and Cultural Contexts

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Eating Disorders, Body Image and Cultural Contexts Although a great deal of early research on body image and eating disorders focused on upper/middle class Caucasians living in America or under the influence of Western ideals, many researchers are realizing that eating disorders are not isolated to this particular group. They are also realizing the differences in body image between occur in different races and genders (Pate, Pumariega, Hester 1992). Recently, several studies have shown that eating disorders transcend these specific guidelines, and increasingly, researchers are looking at male/female differences, cross-cultural variation and variation within cultures as well. It is impossible to broach the concept of body image without including the general sentiment of the population being studied as it changes from society to society. Americans, Blacks and Asians have been the focus of a significant amount of research on the cultural attributions of eating disorders and differences in body image between cultures. When a researcher considers body image and eating problems in African-American women, they must also take into account the socio-cultural factors and factors of oppression, such as racism and sexism (Davis, Clance, Gailis 1999). Without specific etiologies for individual eating problems and body dissatisfaction, these issues become very important to individual cases and treatments. Psychologists must consider religions, coping methods, family life, and socio-economic status when assessing a patient. These all vary within cultures and between cultures making this a difficult job and complex subject to tackle. Fortunately, a great deal of research has been done to assess the body images of Black women. One extensive... ... middle of paper ... ...pean Eating Disorder Review,4, 73-83. Molloy, B., Herzberger, S. (1998) Body image and self-esteem: A comparison of african american and caucasian women. Sex-Roles, 38, 631-643. Mumford, D., Whitehouse, A., Platts, M., (1991) Sociocultural correlates of eating disorders among asian school girls in bradford. British Journal of Pyschiatry, 158, 222-228. Ofuso, H., Lafreniere, K., Senn, C., (1998) Body image And perception among young women of african descent: A normative context? Feminism and Psychology, 8, 303-323. Pate, J., Pumariega, A., (1992) Cross-cultural patterns in eating disorders: A review. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,31, 802-809. Williamson, L. (1998) Eating disorders and the cultural forces behind the drive for thinness: Are african american women really protected? Social Work in Health Care,28, 61-73.
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