Binge eating is almost similar to bulimia but differs with the characteristics one portrays after they have eaten. Unlike bulimia where a person takes the excessive measures to loose weight, one suffering from binge eating is just filled with a sense of guilt and shame (Chambers, 2009). Those who binge eat also use the food to cope with stress, depression, self-esteem, amongst other negative emotions. They may involve themselves in actions such as promising themselves not to over eat again, or control their eating, but unfortunately, they find themselves in the same condition repeatedly.
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In the initial stages of this disorder, the compensatory behavior, such as binging, is a way to ease the guilt from having eaten so much food. However, later it becomes a method of mood regulation.
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Yet another model posits that eating disorders arise as symbolic representations of family dynamics. In this case, a power struggle between parent and child, especially the mother, may motivate a girl to find power over one thing she can control—what she eats. In this case, treatment and diagnosis involve the entire family. Feminist psychoanalyst Kim Chernin (1981) argues that eating disorders primarily develop as a response of overly controlling parents or environments that do not nurture a girl’s journey from childhood to womanhood; psychiatrist Mary Pipher (1994) views eating disorders as responses to our culture’s social dictate that a good woman is passive, quiet, and takes up very little space. Chernin and Pipher do agree, however, that eating disorders develop in situations that prevent the victim from saying or acknowledging to herself what she thinks, feels, or wants. In this way, then, eating disorders can be seen as survival strategies in response to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; sexism; classism; homophobia; or racism—in other words, responses to trauma. Contemporary researchers and scholars mostly agree that eating disorder behaviors are coping mechanisms that give the sufferers a feeling of empowerment. By refusing to eat, bingeing, or bingeing and purging, a woman gains some influence over her environment. Control over the body becomes a substitute for control a woman may wish to have over her economic, political, or social circumstance. Th us, weight loss or gain may not be a primary motivation for disordered eating.
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African American singer Dinah Washington died as result of an overdose of diet pills and alcohol; Puerto Rican poet Luz Maria Umpierre-Herrera writes about her struggle with anorexia; and African American writer Gloria Naylor writes about generations of eating disordered women in Linden Hills (Th ompson 1996). According to Becky Th ompson’s research on minority women, many of them were taught to diet, binge, and purge by older relatives who had done so themselves, which suggests that, although statistics show that eating disorders are on the rise in U.S. minority cultures, this may simply be the result of more careful research rather than an actual sharp increase. Health professionals assume and are taught that eating disorders are a white women’s disease, so in women of color eating disorder symptoms would be dismissed or treated as something else. Particularly because Hispanic and black women are culturally stereotyped as plump or obese, whereas Asian women are stereotyped as thin, doctors would ignore those visual cues as signs of eating problems. Exacerbating this situation is that most minority women also see eating disorders as a “white” problem, so they are more reluctant to recognize signs of disorder in themselves or seek help. This explains why most women of color who are treated for eating disorders are in more severe states than white women with the same disorders.