Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is an eating disorder that typically begins in adolescence and it is characterized by three diagnostic criteria defined within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This criterion consists of the restriction of energy intake, leading to a significantly low body weight, the intense fear of weight gain, and the disturbed sense in which someone perceives their body weight or shape. Adolescence is characterized as the time in aperson’s life which is the period of growth between the ages of 10 and 19 years old. This period of development spans through many milestones, including puberty and the end of high school into college. Adolescence has also been characterized by the need for social acceptance and when an individual may develop their attitudes and behaviors towards eating. Females who are within this period of adolescence, are under extremely impressionable through the society we live in and their own cultural influences that may occur at home. Growing up in an ever- changing technological world, children are constantly exposed to the world of social media, and different advertisements that are on TV or phone applications they use on a daily basis. With these new aspects growing in society, suggestible minds are seeing these posts and advertisements of people with seemingly perfect lives, and bodies and believing that they need to be ‘better’ than the person that they already are. As focus on body image in this society has continued to grow, there has also been a movement of “body positivity” in which advertisers are marketing women to be comfortable in the body that they own in comparison to the advertisements towards the “ideal” feminine body. Each person is also influenced by their own cultural background. This may include how food is seen in your household, and if it is considered to be a focal point in a daily routine, or during larger gatherings. Culture also plays a large role in the diagnosis of AN in general. Anorexia had generally been considered to be a “white-middle-class-female disorder”, which has been proven incorrect. In countries that are not considered to be westernized, the diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa seems to be lower, which is due to how our culture idealizes thinness. In other cultures, AN presents itself without this idea of “fat-phobia”. Because people in other societies are not presenting this idea of the fear of weight gain, they are not diagnosed with AN even though they may be presenting other symptoms such as excessive weight loss and amenorrhea. The discussion of Anorexia Nervosa needs to continue evolving as our society and cultures do in order to provide current research on topics such as social media influencers, and AN presenting in other cultures.
Daddario, Hannah, "The Social and Cultural Factors of Anorexia Nervosa in Adolescent Women" (2020). Honors College Theses. 342.