Eating Disorders and Cultures in Transition

Eating Disorders and Cultures in Transition

Eating Disorders and Cultures in Transition

Eating Disorders and Cultures in Transition

Synopsis

There is evidence to show that the preoccupation with slimness is spreading to non-Western cultures. This work calls for professionals to extend their understanding and clinical work to account properly for eating disorders on a world-wide scale.

Excerpt

In ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’, Tereza is staring at herself in the mirror. She wonders what would happen if her nose were to grow a millimeter longer each day. How much time would it take for her face to become unrecognizeable? And if her face no longer looked like Tereza, would Tereza still be Tereza? Where does the self begin and end? You see: not wonder at the immeasurable infinity of the soul; rather, wonder at the uncertain nature of the self and of its identity.

Milan Kundera (1988, p. 28) The art of the novel (trans. by L Asher).

New York: Harper & Row

Why, after so many books on eating disorders have been published, do we think anyone would care to read another? Well, because we think this one is different. It is the product of an evolving and increasingly sophisticated quest to understand the cultural forces inherent in aberrant eating and we believe this is the first book that provides such immediate and intimate access to a variety of international issues relating to the phenomenon of body and weight dissatisfaction.

Who are we and why should you trust us to be the tour guides on this intellectual journey? Mervat Nasser, an Egyptian known for her work on culture and eating disorders, and Melanie A. Katzman, an American who had been working on the marriage of transcultural and feminist ideas, met in Padua, Italy. Given that they were both living and working in England (or at least most of the time) they agreed to keep their conversations going, which resulted in, among other things, a joint publication on how sociocultural approaches could impact and inform efforts to prevent eating disorders. Leaving from different intellectual and national terminals they had arrived at the same port—cultural analyses of eating disorders were challenged to explain why women, why now and why seemingly everywhere you look? The late twentieth century perspectives were not only culture bound, they were also discipline bound and fell short of explaining the complex contributions of economic and political forces on individual bodily expressions of distress.

Back in America, where you might have thought at least the two New Yorkers would have met earlier, Richard A. Gordon was busy completing the second edition

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