ED and Culture - is there a relationship?

I have already posted about how ED does not discriminate; indeed, ED can hit anyone of any culture, religion, background, ethnicity, or gender. However, many people have asked me to exapnd on this. So, here it is. I hope this helps!

First, I want to say that any medical provider who tells you that you do not or cannot have ED because you are of a certain culture is WRONG. Although data MIGHT show that ED is more prevalent in certain backgrounds (ex. Caucasian or Whites), this is for different reasons. One reason may be that in Canada and the USA, we have more awareness about ED and therefore diagnose more people with it. Also, our culture is open to talking about this. In my home country (Egypt), ED is fairly rare because not many know about it, and people do not discuss it. My parents never knew about ED until I started showing the signs of it. For some cultures, ED is not given enough attention because of how 'important' food is. For example, Egyptians LOVE food, and they always have food whenever people get together. To them, how could I, an Egyptian girl, have a sickness that makes me not like food and not eat? How could I not eat when all my family LOVED food? Was I crazy? Why was I being so stupid? It took a lot of time for my parents and family (and community) to understand that ED is a real, mental illness. It does not matter what culture you are from - it still is serious.

My point? Do not let someone say that you are stupid for having ED. They are unaware and need to be educated. In truth, it is not completely their fault. People do not know about ED because we do not really talk about it. Someone starving themselves to death does not get attention as much as other things, like depression or cancer. But YOU can change this. Learn and educate others. Visit websites and credible sources and know the facts. Then help others around you understand, too. It is only when my parents understood the facts about ED that they were able to see that I was seriously ill and not trying to kill myself - I was ill with a mental illness and I deserved care, gentleness, and help.

Now, let's talk about who ED hits the most. Again, we cannot really say. Data MIGHT show America as having the most cases, but as I discussed previously, this can be because of many factors. The truth of the matter is that no one culture is more prone to having ED than another. Yes, media can make things worse. And our attitudes about food and weight can wrosen things as well. But these are ENVIRONMENTAL factors. What this means is that these are things around us: our communities, the media, attitudes, etc. But perhaps ED is a mix (like all other illnesses) of genetics and environment? In other words, nurture vs. nature. Both play a role. I love posting information about how ED changes our hormones and neurotransmitters because this shows us how ED is a true illness on the biological level. I truly believe that my ED is a mix of enviornmental and biological factors.

I am going to post a link to a study that shows that ED is not related more strongly to one cutlure than another. It is kind of old, but it proves my point. Basically, this study shows that ED can happen anywhere - it is a mix of factors. While Western cultures may have more cases, this is largely a result of the mix of nature and nurture.

In summary, I want to say that ED is not related to your ethnicity. I have seen people of all sorts of backgrounds have ED. Yes, it may be harder to find in some cultures because of the lack of awareness, or because the typical attitude of that race may be different towards food, weight, and illnesses. My case is a perfect example: Egyptians love food, and here I was, an Egyptian girl, refusing to eat because I did not want to get fat. People did not understand how I was so foolish. But it is a real illness. It is when my parents and I learned about ED that we knew that this was not my fault. It was also not silly for an Arab girl to have this disease. Diseases do not choose between cultures. We do not choose ED. ED chooses us. Likewise, ED does not choose recovery. WE DO. So, if you need help, get it. Do not let someone tell you that you cannot have ED for any odd reason.

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