Eating disorders have stereotypically been associated with slim, white, young, heterosexual women. In reality, eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of how they identify. Eating disorders are brain-based biological illnesses that have complex causes and require specialized care. However, the stereotypical misconception of someone with an eating disorder has serious ramifications on who is diagnosed and continues on to receive proper treatment.
Consequences of the Thin, White Woman Stereotype
Historically, there has been a misconception that eating disorders affect only thin, young, white females. Advocate Claire Mysko says, “This early assumption that eating disorders primarily affect young, affluent white women was based on the research that was conducted on young, affluent, white women.” This research conducted on only white women led people to believe eating disorders were only a white woman’s disease. Despite most providers now knowing that this is false, the initial belief had serious implications for eating disorder treatment today.