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SOC 603
Pamela Sugiman

SOC 603- Symbolic Representations of Gender II: Gender Embodied Outcome for Many Women: • Disordered eating “Disordered eating” occurs along a continuum from occasional overeating or restrictive eating to severe disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and compulsive eating and/or exercising • Anorexia nervosa: refusal to maintain minimally normal weight; intense fear of gaining weight; distorted perceptions- one can restrict to the point where that one person becomes extremely ill. • Bulimia nervosa: binge eating followed by purging, excessive exercise and laxatives • “Disordered eating and obsession with food is widely accepted way to deal with weight and body image issues. It is largely considered normative behavior for women and remains largely unproblematized” – we don’t question or critically examine disordered eating. It is a Gendered Problem • 90-95% of those people diagnosed with eating disorders are women • Females account for 94% of all hospitalized admissions for eating disorders • Nearly half of all adolescent girls in Canada are trying to lose weight – they put themselves on diets in order to lose weight • 3% develop anorexia or bulimia—conservative estimate because not all girls are diagnosed as having an eating disorder. Some people are not recorded because they don’t go into a hospital or seek treatment. Age • Adolescents (10-19 years old) have highest rates of hospitalization for eating disorders – b/c parents have some control over children still (once a person reaches 18 you cant force them to undergo treatment and it must be voluntary) • 37% of girls in grade 9 and 40% in grade 10 view themselves as “fat” •28% of grade 9 girls and 29% in grade 10 trying to lose weight • 34% to 64% girls aged 5 had thoughts about dieting • Not every culture has the same view of feminine and masculine beauty (cultural based surgery’s such as Nose surgery’s and eye lid surgery’s) Medical Risks • Osteoporosis, low blood pressure, gastro-intestinal problems • Shrinking of the brain (IQ) • Kidney failure; congestive heart failure (potassium) • Anorexia: one of few psychiatric disorders with a significant mortality rate • Highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness • 5-10% of anorexics die within 10 years • Bordo: argues that anorexia begins in and emerges out of conventional feminine practice  comes from the way we construct femininity in society - Thinks about the etiology of disordered eating- what factors should we consider? A Culture of Dieting • Dieting may lead to eating disorders – it would be easier to enjoy certain food if there wasn’t nutritional analysis on the foods we eat Abramovitz & Birch Study (2008): - Studied girls that were 5 years old -Role of mothers and dieting – found that mothers influence their daughters diet habits - Is there a relationship between a mother and daughter who diets? • 90% of mothers reported recent dieting • Daughters were 2x more likely to think about dieting if their mothers were on a diet • Point: dieting is normative for girls and women; young girls are influenced by their mothers and dieting • Diets don’t really work; some people tend to gain a lot of weight Set Point Theory of Weight • Role of genetics and metabolism • We all have a set point rate: a stable reference point • Food restriction results in slower metabolism – your metabolism slows down so you are able to survive • There is no way of directly measuring set point weight- we begin to learn over time (sometimes through eating more or eating less) • Look at parents to find a set point rate – Much of our weight is genetically determined Body Image 4 components of body image: • Body image satisfaction: one’s satisfaction with body image appearance • Body image investment: importance of body image appearance, in defining self & determining self worth • Body image behavior: appearance-related behaviors (ex. concealing, avoiding sight of body, looking in mirror, grooming, etc.) • Body image perception: how accurately one estimates own body size Body Image and Self-Esteem • There is a significant link between body image and self esteem • Low self-esteem in one domain leads to emphasis on other qualities – person tries to highlight areas in which they believe they struggle • Many negative influences may result in greater investment in appearance (i.e. someone telling you that your not very smart, intelligent, etc.) • Relationship between self-esteem and body image is reinforced by popular culture and limited opportunities – we don’t naturally invest in our appearance; we are more likely to invest when we see ads of successful people caring about their appearance • Most of us are praised when we loose weight (“you look great” – Now considered to look pretty once weight has been lost) Socio-Cultural Influences Westernization and modernization- Fiji Study (Becker et al. 2002) • This study comes very close to telling us about this relationships (North American culture and eating disorder) • Becker was in Fiji doing research not specifically on eating disorders • Television was introduced for the first time Agriculture to the industrial economy – TV in 1995 - Market based society - Naturally in Fiji people have: rounder body shape in females; no culture of dieting; no reports of self-induced vomiting, not particularly tall - Women and girls have positive views on their bodies But after 3 years of U.S and U.K TV - 69% of subjects reported dieting to loose weight - 74% reported feeling too big or fat - 12% reported induced self vomiting – symptoms of bulimia - Younger women in the study reported that they did not want to be ‘fat’ like their mothers – the mothers were not considered good role models for their children - People felt fatter when watching TV- due to exposure of these thin bodies on television - Watched to have cultural ideal body shapes A Response to Powerless: Assertion of Control • Growing research on racialized populations • Coping mechanisms against racism, sexism, homophobia Attempt to resist womanhood (based on Japan Study) - This meaning that women in Japan should represent themselves as girls – therefore by eating less they are residing in womanhood - Hello Kitty Accessories – marketing to girls yet women in Japan buy it therefore infantilizing them - “Bodily self control” as means of exerting control in the social world- people who do feel this feel powerless in society that allows them to feel control by manipulating their own bodies Boys and Men • Isn’t much research – scarce research • Higher levels of satisfaction with their bodies • Men more likely to report dissatisfaction • Social taboo about men talking openly about body dissatisfaction where it pervades women culture - There may be men that feel dissatisfied but don’t talk about it - Example: Calvin Klein Ads with men in underwear – used to be controversial ads now they’re a normality Other ways of Manipulating the Body How do we manipulate our bodies? • The ‘old’ ways: - Dieting, body sculpting (gym), corseting, shaving, tweezing, waxing, electrolysis, deodorizing, douching (to a natural sense), tattooing, etc. • The ‘newer’ ways: - Liposuction, breast augmentation, breast lift, calf augmentation, face lift, lip augmentation, lip reduction, chin augmentation, cheek implants, laser hair removal, chemical peels, Botox injection, rhinoplasty, thigh lift, etc. • Darling- Wolf, “From Airbrushing to Liposuction”  “In a culture in which organ transplants, life- extension ma
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