July 28, 2011

The Perfect Storm: Cultural Focus on Weight Loss for Women, Social Isolation, and Conflict Avoidance

Employing an over-used metaphor from the famous movie, another perfect storm occurs in eating disorders.

No one can deny the cultural “value” in Western culture for women to be thin and have the “perfect body”. As I have said many times on this website, there is more to the development of eating disorders than just cultural values.

Anorexia is the most serious eating disorder and is very rare with a prevalence rate of approximately 1% of females. However, millions of young women read magazines that promoting the idea of the “perfect body”.

Eating disorders occur when there is a “perfect storm” of factors that include cultural biases – towards the “perfect body”, conflict avoidance, and social isolation. Together, these factors increase the likelihood of an individual developing anorexia, bulimia and/or compulsive overeating.

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One Response to “The Perfect Storm: Cultural Focus on Weight Loss for Women, Social Isolation, and Conflict Avoidance”

  1. shani says:

    I agree with the writer. There is definitely more to developing an eating disorder than cultural influences to be thin and to have the “perfect body”. If it were as simple and superficial as achieving this, the sufferer would stop starving at her goal weight.

    I know this because I suffered with Anorexia for ten years. I grew up in South Africa in the 90’s as a teen and wasn’t hugely influenced by the media. The internet was not around and cultural exposure to the twisted ideal of thinness was not prevalent as it is today.

    Without knowing what Anorexia was or knowing anybody else Anorexic, I still went down that path, for ten years. I then started recovery and ten years later I consider myself fully recovered. The irony for me is I was always thin. Even when the Anorexia started so I seriously believe this is such a limited view of such a serious mental and psychological disorder that has deep-seated roots in so much more than superficial IMAGE.

    Shani Raviv

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Book: Enduring Change in Eating Disorders

Enduring Change in Eating Disorders - Book Cover

Dr Fishman is the author of 'Enduring Change in Eating Disorders – Interventions with long -term results' (Brunner-Routledge 2004).

This book presents the powerful and proven effective model of Intensive Structural Family Therapy and its application to the treatment of eating disorders.