Think only white women get eating disorders? Think again.

In popular culture, stories of eating disorders are dominated by white women. But what about the other sufferers? Women of color have been sidelined in eating disorder funding and research, and have therefore been underestimated in our perception of the affected demographic.

In the new Slate article “Eating disorders do not discriminate“, Michelle Konstantinovsky explores this imbalance, and the implications for treatment of non-white women with eating disorders.

She tells the stories of three women of color who struggled not only with their eating disorders, but also with cultural perceptions of their particular race’s relationship with food.

These women were largely unsupported by their family and friends, and when they did seek treatment they felt excluded and misunderstood by both doctors and other patients.

The widespread perception that women of color don’t get eating disorders is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as it means that there is a lack of funding and support for them when compared to white women.

In the end, as Konstantinovsky notes: “It’s not just media images that are to blame, or various cultures’ expectations of women, or genetics. It’s not just about stress, or trauma, or power and control. It’s all of it, and everyone is at risk.

Tessa Needham Synnott discovered About-Face while completing her PhD in Performing Arts at the University of Western Sydney (Australia) in 2008. Her thesis explored the potential of performance to provoke change, and part of her research was Bodily, a solo theatrical performance about body image. She loves technology and the creative arts, and is passionate about the different cultural forces affecting the body image of girls and women. She is a freelance graphic designer, photographer, and WordPress developer: tessaneedham.com.

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