Negative Body Image and Bulimia Nervosa

Topics: Image

One consequence of sociocultural pressure to be thin is that some young girls and women develop highly intrusive and pervasive perceptual biases regarding how “fat” they are. In sharp contrast, young Amish people do not display such body image distortion. This supports the notion that sociocultural influences are implicated in the discrepancy between the way many young girls and women perceive their bodies and the “ideal” female form as represented in the media. Such perceptual biases lead girls and women to believe that men prefer more slender shapes than they do.

Many women also feel evaluated by other women, believing that their female peers have even more stringent standards of weight and shape than they do themselves. Society makes women believe that only a certain type of body shape is acceptable and women become insecure if they do not meet that criterion. It would be one thing if women had a reasonable chance of attaining their “ideal” bodies simply by not exceeding an average caloric intake or by maintaining a healthy weight.

Quite simply, this is not possible for most people. As a society, we are all getting heavier.

Women and young girls are now living in a society where their bodies define who they are. No one wants to gain weight due to the continuous reminders on social media about new diet products that are on the market and the value in weight loss. There are so many tv shows about plastic surgery and diet plans and it makes it harder for women to accept the bodies they already have.

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It is estimated that young girls are exposed to 400 to 600 media images per day. Young girls and women inescapably feel insecure about their bodies and physical appearance and often believe they must change their bodies to gain self-esteem.

Bulimia nervosa was recognized as a psychiatric syndrome relatively recently. This syndrome is characterized by uncontrollable binge eating and efforts to prevent resulting weight gain by using inappropriate behaviors such as self-induced vomiting and excessive exercise. The DSM-5 criteria for bulimia nervosa include: recurrent episodes of binge eating, recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviors to prevent weight gain, the binge eating and compensatory behavior last on lasting, at least once a week for three months, self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body weight and shape, the disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa.

The difference between a person with bulimia nervosa and the binge-eating purging type of anorexia nervosa is based on weight. A person with anorexia is severely underweight by definition.

Technically the anorexia nervosa diagnosis trumps the bulimia nervosa diagnosis because anorexia nervosa has a far greater mortality rate. Patients with bulimia are typical of normal weight or sometimes even slightly overweight.

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Negative Body Image and Bulimia Nervosa. (2022, Jun 21). Retrieved from

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