Eating Disorders a Cultural Disease

Essay by burbandesignHigh School, 11th gradeA+, August 2004

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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...