Cultural experiences are also likely to result to eating disorders. Culture can result into eating disorders either through a cultural idealization of a certain body image or through culture shock as has been largely established. Though the media has been accused of fuelling eating disorders, there are those that belief that the media just conforms to the set standards. The media does not invent perceptions but rather it reinforces the held ideals. If the media is glorifying certain images of ideal beauty, it is because these are the held values and beliefs in the society.
There is indeed some truths in this. A look at the American society indicates that there is a certain obsession with thinness. This is not necessarily driven by the media but rather stems from the existing culture. This means that individuals have to strife to conform to the set images or risk being sidelined and ridiculed. A look at the various racial and ethnic groups indicates that they have their own perceptions of beauty, African American culture, though changing, has for long held in esteem large women and also muscled men as a sign of either femininity or masculinity.
This means that children born and bred in such societies will result to certain eating habits to conform to the set images. Social anxieties and consequently eating disorders are likely to arise either in the struggle to conform to the set images or as an anxiety reaction and lack of self esteem (Uher & Treasure, 2005). Cultural experiences also related to culture shock and differences from the mainstream culture have been seen as leading to eating disorders.
This is a problem that has been seen being prevalent in minority groups. Most immigrants to the United States are bound to witness first hand the huge differences that exist between their culture and the American culture. This may lead to an abrupt change of eating behaviors as the individual strive to maintain or acquire a body image that conforms to that of the white Americans. The pressure to fit into the American culture is so intense that it may lead to eating disorders.
A look at the existing research reveals that eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have culturally been seen as a preserve of the American born females; however this is fast changing as other minority groups enter into a fit of desperate attempts to conform to the popular white image. As recent trends have indicated, majority of those that suffer from eating disorders are either from the minority racial groups or teenagers cutting across the racial divide (Hall, 1995).
Another key cause of eating disorders as has been recently established is enmeshment. Enmeshment as defined by Janet and Traci (2008) refers to “an extreme form of proximity and intensity in family interactions. ” This is a problem that is mostly associated with ethnic immigrant groups. White Americans continue to establish high levels of independence form their parents and families; this however is different from other groups especially as the research established, Asian Americans.
It is this level of interdependence that has been pinpointed as leading to a wide range of disorders, amongst them eating disorders. Indeed eating disorders have become a common problem as the society progresses. Although there are no specific causes of this disorder, the existing research has pinpointed individual experiences as being the major causes. These causes maybe cultural as held by the society or may be fueled by the inadequacies perpetuated by the media.
Janet T. & Traci M. (2008) Cultural factors in collegiate eating disorder pathology: when family culture clashes with individual culture. Journal of American College Health. Vol 57, No 3. Retrieved on May 8, 2009 from http://web. ebscohost. com/ehost/pdf? vid=4&hid=14&sid=a2074a16-fcdd-4799- 9ee0-0e7db0dfd4b4%40sessionmgr2 Rachel S. & Glenn W (2008) Childhood experiences of being bullied and teased in the eating disorders. European eating disorders review 16, 401-407. Retrieved on May 8, 2009 from