Eating Disorders and the Forces Behind the Cultural Drive for Thinness: Are African American Women Really Protected? began as a paper I wrote for graduate school, where everything I read about eating disorders seemed to exclude women of color. It was 1996 and I kept opening books on eating disorders to find some statement like the following:
Because the African American community is more accepting of fuller body shapes, eating disorders are rare among black women.
Gee, I thought. What about black women who live, work and play primarily in the mainstream or “White” Community? What about upper middle class black women who share ideals of physical beauty with upper middle class white (and upper middle class Asian and upper middle class Latina) women? What about biracial women with rail thin white mothers and cousins?
And speaking of biracial women, I know my world view is skewed by ballet but here’s some food for thought (no pun intended). In all the years I was dancing, I knew a lot of white girls who did not have eating disorders, but I never met a single biracial girl who didn’t – myself included.
So I began to dig. My Social Work in Healthcare article is the result. The tone is way more radical than I’d be about it today, but the sentiment is still important to me.
(You can find the link to the original article on the My Articles page. If for some reason, you can only get the abstract, let me know and I will post the whole article on this site.)