Media Coverage

How The Conversation Around Eating Disorders Is Changing For Women Of Color

May 16, 2023
The Seattle Medium
This article in The Seattle Medium discusses the misconceptions and barriers to accessing eating disorder treatment for women of color and includes interviews from Project Heal and quotes from ERC's Megan Riddle.

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All women and girls are susceptible to eating disorders and poor body image, but because of misleading medical terminology, popular-media images, and a lack of overall awareness and training, the issue and remedies are framed almost exclusively around white women.

But individuals and organizations are working to shift the discussion and unveil the true complexities of eating disorders, particularly in relation to minoritized communities. 

They are producing research, providing resources to increase access and developing proper training practices for the medical community. These groups aim to open up the narrative surrounding eating disorders to include everyone impacted by them. 

Black feminist media studies scholar Timeka Tounsel, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, and the author of the book  “Branding Black Womanhood”, believes white women are the face of body image and eating disorders because of medical language that is based on white people. 

“A lot of medical terminology is based on a prototype that is never going to be a Black person,” Tounsel said. “For something like eating disorders, that’s going to be based on white girls, white women. The idea of thinking about an eating disorder as something that someone suffers from because of an attempt to become ultra thin — as opposed to other kinds of disordered eating — I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s been a focus on white girls.”

White girls are more likely to be exposed to representations of “white femininity,” where a thin ideal reigns supreme. 

Black girls, on the other hand, more often see themselves represented with a broader range of body types — and, in many cases, the ideal body type is not ultra thin, but rather a more curvy figure.

Black girls and women have also been found to be somewhat “overexposed” to the media — in other words, they are encountering many more types of images than their white counterparts.


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