Minority Women and Body Image

By Dejah Harley, HealthWorks Peer Educator, BBH ‘18

Issues with body image are extremely common and at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. (Hudson, Hiripi, Popo, & Kessler, 2007). Eating disorders are also incredibly underreported in minority populations.

Eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are often associated with white women. However, women of all races are susceptible to both body image issues and eating disorders.  When the “face” of a disorder does not match the race of the person, it can be difficult for that individual to understand their perceived susceptibility.  This can also be true for men and may be the reason many men do not seek help for body image issues.

Minority groups experience different struggles with body image than those of white women. There are many cultural and societal factors that influence how minority groups view their body in the context of beauty. Also, the cultural values within some racial and ethnic groups often define beauty in a way that is contrary to the dominant white definition of beauty. For example, in Latino culture, a fuller, rounder female figure is valued.

Monday marked the start of “Love Your Body” week here at PSU! This week is all about loving every inch of your body so that you can live a happier life. Beauty standards are always changing. This week is all about loving your body and learning to let go of the unattainable “standards.”

All bodies of all sizes, sexual identities, and races, are beautiful. This week we want to create a conversation about body image across those demographics.  This week is for everyone to feel that their concerns regarding their body can be heard. Please attend the events. Be part of the movement to think positively about our bodies.

Head to @healthypsu on Instagram to stay up to date on “Love Your Body Week” activities!




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