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Eating disorders: Is it really a white girl thing?

Eating disorders are real, complex, and devastating conditions that can have a serious impact on health, productivity, and affect relationships with yourself and other people around you. Eating disorders can be formed in numerous ways, whether it be through bullying or social media, eating disorders are real and should not be ignored.

Over the past year there has been an increase in eating disorders amoung racial and ethnic minorities in the United States of America. Contrary to the belief that eating disorders only affect “young, rich caucasian girls”. Disordered eating is equally rife within all racial and ethic groups.

Acculturation plays a huge role in the formation of eating disorders in a community, though it also plays a role in the non-white community. Acculturation is adopting a predominant culture in society as their own in order to fit the cultural normalities. It has been seen that this plays a large role in the non-white communities in countries such as the United States of America and European countries. The minorities based in those countries are more likely to acquire an eating disorder. Why? Those girls and boys living in those societies feel the need to submit into the European standards of thinness which often result in extreme disordered eating.

One of the many concerns are being accepted and looked up to by society, especially if those ideologies have been drilled into your mind at a tender age. Non-white children living in predominantly caucasian communities are often given the message, from a tender age, that their beauty is not good enough and is not accepted by society. Why? Because the look and seem different from the majority of their peers.

Many professional’s who study eating disorders believe that statistics that say eating disorders mostly occur in caucasian women are false due to the belief that research is biased and is mainly collected by white women opposed to people that are not white.

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Communities of color buy into the idea of eating disorders being associated with white girls and that it’s a “white girl illness”.
Doctors too have a mistaken idea that. A study in 2006 had identified that clinics were less likely to assign a diagnosis of disordered eating to an African American than to white girl.

Most ethnic communities turn a blind eye to most of their young adolescents exhibiting signs of disordered eating and mental disorders. Most also ignore the topic completely and/or give vague explanations about it, leaving their child to venture down a spiral of darkness.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association also known as NEDA, “Specific statistics on the prevalence of eating disorders among women of color are unavailable, due to our historically biased view that eating disorders only affect white women, relatively little research has been conducted utilizing participants from racial and ethnic minority groups.”

Eating disorders can occur to any racial, age, gender group. It is not simply a white girl thing. Assist people who are going through this especially if their unhealthy habits are going unnoticed by people around them. Communication is key, communicate and speak out about issues such as this that are biased against the non-white societies.

Written by: Judith Ikeh

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