Eating Disorders=White Girls Probs?

Hello loves,

If you were to base your perspective of eating disorder demographics solely on young adult literature, media news stories, Dr Phil and Tumblr (oh, tumblr...I just never run out of rants against you<3), you would come to the conclusion that eating disorders are in fact a rich white girl problem.
To be honest, until very recently, when I visualized a severe eating disorder sufferer locked up in a psych ward, she was almost as pale as I am(I've met some of you in person, yall know I'm legally translucent).

I went to great lengths to debunk the male ED debate in my ANEB article, translated here, but I never really considered the race issue until I found this statistics bank from a study on Eating Disorders in Minority Populations. 

African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American; as the webpage demonstrates, no one is spared. The results absolutely floored me, and made me reconsider most of what I thought I knew about the societal body image conundrum.  Here are some of my reflections on the topic:


We often associate the black community with a more accepting body positive mindset, which leads many of us to believe they couldn't face the same body image struggles as other races do. But we know that's simply not the case(see stats), and NEDA explains it as a consequence of acculturation, defined as the process of shifting values to the host culture from the culture of origin. In the occidental world, diversity of culture is generally celebrated, leading to a melting pot-type of atmosphere. 

However, this can become problematic when minority cultures start dwindling at the expense of a dominant "American" (ie white) society. That beautiful body positivity found in Hispanic and African American communities is slowly being assimilated into the dangerous pro-thin movement, which can lead to serious repercussions on influenceable kids and teens:  "In one study of Cuban American women, Jane, Hunter, and Lozzi found that close identification with Cuban culture was associated with lower EAT-26 scores, indicating less negative attitudes toward eating, and may have a protective factor in the development of eating disorders. Chamorro & Flores-Ortiz found that second-generation Mexican-American women, those born in the US to foreign-born parents, were the most acculturated and had the highest disordered eating patterns."

We letting a thinspo, thigh gap, size 0 obsessed culture win a fight against a healthier counterpart. No wonder eating disorders are on the rise in most 2nd and 3rd generation immigrant households. 


We know women of varying body types are vastly unrepresented in the media, but the homogeneity of beauty ideals is as equally a race issue. "Browne (1993) reports that African-American women feel tremendous pressure as role models, and that as a result, feel they must be perfect in order to counteract negative stereotypes." 
Think about the (rare) women of colour who were able to break these barriers; Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell, and most of the models featured in ad campaigns or fashion spreads. In order to obtain their level of success, they had to beven more perfect than their preferred caucasian counterparts. 

So the young people of similar racial backgrounds look up to the few men/women who look like them on TV and think, for example, that is what I, a hispanic girl, should look like. Moreover, it sends the message that to reach your dreams , especially considering your minority status, you must look a certain way. 

Universal Motivation

But most of all, by associating ED with the caucasian race, we are forgetting the ultimate motivator behind all disordered eating behaviours: emotions. 

We can argue and bitch about the media, and society, but at the end of the day, as I've said multiple times in various articles, the media alone is not enough to push someone over the edge. 

Depression, trauma, grief, stress: these feelings have never been exclusive to being white! 
They are the main instigators of eating disorders, hence to even insinuate that men and women of color cannot develop eating disorders is to assert that they do not face the daily struggles that white people face. Which would in fact be the most ridiculous declaration since lord knows when. 


We all need to rethink the way we imagine the world around us.
Hope you all have a marvelous day<3


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