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Eating Disorders A Cultural Disease Essay

2206 words - 9 pages

Eating disorder is one of the most prevailing diseases in North America; more than eight million people in the U.S are suffering from eating disorder with a number at risk of developing eating disorders. Eating disorder is characterized by the persistent pattern of aberrant eating or dieting behaviours. These patterns of eating behaviour are associated with significant emotional, physical, and relational distress. It results from a combination of biological, psychological and social-cultural factors, in particular, the social-cultural factor. In the western society, being fat and thin is not simply a matter of biological trait, but of moral characteristics and qualities, which has attributed to many powerful meanings. Thinness is equated with acceptability, success, happiness, health, wealth, and being desired. Whereas being fat is equated with rejection, shame, failures in career life and personal relationships, (Body image and advertising, 2000). The western culture delivers the message that " Thin is in", which seriously lowers an individual's self-esteem and damages his/her body image. Family, peer group and the media play a huge role in reinforcing and delivering the wrong message that thinness is the most important factor in achieving success and acquiring happiness in one's life.For most people, the family is the first agent of socialization, from which they learn communication skills and normal rules of behavior. From the sociological point of view, a person's self concept is the result of social interactions with others. Thus, Family plays a key role in shaping one's body image and providing cues about what the family members should look like. The recent researches have indicated that the inappropriate family attitudes toward eating have a huge impact on the body image of its members. In most cases, the family plays a big role in delivering the wrong message of eating, which greatly increases the chances of developing eating disorder in its members.At an early age, children begin to develop their sense of self as they interpret how their parents react to them, thus the parents' response toward their children's body shape determines the children's ability to build self-esteem and confidence in their appearance. For instance, if a parent is constantly complaining about his/her child's weight and body image, then this child is likely to feel insecure or anxious about their body size and start to develop a negative body image. As a result of the feeling of insecurity, Individuals start pattern themselves after the members of their primary social groups in order to gain security and acceptance in society, (The human way, p. 313). Recent studies suggest a correlation between family eating attitude and the likelihood of developing eating disorders in its members. One of the study shows that if mothers constantly express concerns about their children's' weight at the age of 2, then their children will exhibit greater negative affect by the age...

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