Thinness Fall 2011

Many men and women are concerned with the way they look to others. These people who are so fixated on their looks often have eating disorders. There are three theoretical models used to explain and treat eating disorders. The first of these models, the biomedical model, claims that there are scientific ties to physiological reasons for eating disorders. This particular model has nothing to do with the history, socialization, or cultural factors of this disorder.The biomedical model is focused on treating people with disorders with medical treatment. The second meodel, the psychological model, is influenced by everything the biomedical model does not discuss, such as “biological, psychological and cultural factors.” These first two models “neglect color, lesbians, and working class women.” The third model, the feminist model, believes that almost all eating disorders occurl only in women and not in men. This model discusses how sexism may relate to eating problems and how men have an impact on the women’s eating disorder. According to this model a women feels she has to be thin to get a man’s attention.

There is also a link between eating disorders and sexual abuse. Some women with an eating disorder have said that they binge to help “anestheize their felings” while others sedate themselves through eating to “alleviate anxiety and combat loneliness.” Thompson argues that eating disorders are survival strategies. She says that they exemplify food as a resource that provides comfort and security to an array of issues including sexism, heterosexism and abuse.

Race also contributes to eating disorders. For example, “an African American women, rememberes when her white grandmother told her that she would never be as pretty as her cousins because they were light skinned.” Her grandmother also commented on her weight making this girl think that though she could not change her skin color she could change her weight.


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