What I mean by this is that EDs tend to be seen as rich white girl problems- problems that arise from a lack of other problems. People assume that those who are starving in Africa don’t have any eating disorders because they have more important things to worry about. People who are schizophrenic or are paralyzed from the waist down are suffering in more important ways, so they would never succumb to an eating disorder.
I used to think this too, mainly because I’m a reasonably well-off white girl with really no other problems. I thought maybe my subconscious had created my eating disorder because I was psychologically in need of suffering.
Even if that’s what happened, this is not a trend in the world of EDs. The fact is that EDs in other populations are underreported because of the rich white girl stereotype. New research being done shows that across industrialized nations race or amount of money made does not play a role in the development of an eating disorder. What seems to have an effect is westernized culture, which is the only thing in common among everyone. Someone could argue that anyone, poor or rich, that lives in a westernized culture is rich compared to those in other countries. To combat this, I cite another study which looked at those in a very poor nation (or was it an isolated tribe?). The people were isolated from western culture, and then suddenly they received TVs. More eating disorders appeared. I would also guess that while there are less eating disorders in non-westernized countries, there are still some. After all, EDs are not caused solely by culture or the influence of those around us.
As for people with EDs not having other problems, that’s completely ridiculous. Most people with EDs have additional mental illnesses or other stressors in their lives. EDs are coping mechanisms or ways to gain control- well, something has to need to be coped with or put back in control then. I think that a lot of people use eating disorders as ways to deal with problems that most of the world would gasp upon hearing.
Besides, if someone has an eating disorder and afterwards a new problem arises, the person isn’t suddenly going to be cured- most likely he or she will get worse. This is proof that eating disorders are actual problems, not substitutes for them.