Have you ever thought about your body image, if you live in america I bet you have. But, have you ever thought how it could relate to your perception of diseases such as celiac disease? I have, and it was not a pretty thought…
I attended a workshop the other day called ‘Raising Healthy Girls’. It’s focus had nothing to do with Celiac Disease, and instead was related to the media’s influence on our younger females and how it influences all areas of their lives. The primary teaching focus was how to teach them media literacy, how to help them have healthy diets and help them understand the cultural differences in body image and what a healthy body image really entails. This last part struck me.
Different ethnic groups value different body types as ‘womanly’. With African Americans it is more about health curves and voluptuousness. Hispanics also value a fuller figure, although less so then African Americans. Asians have a view of thin and small as their ideal women, and then there are Caucasians, specifically white america’s. This dominant culture values thin, tall and beautiful, with anything not meeting this ideal as skewed. We portray this in every form of media possible, creating an environment that is high in eating disorders and poor self image. Unfortunately, other ethnicity with healthier body images are starting to follow suite, with these issues rising in those populations.
As I sat there assessing this cultural shift in my mind I realized it may not stop there. In fact, maybe our culture’s body image, and focus on ‘skinny’ as beautiful and healthy, may be altering the way we view diseases that make us malnourished and sick (for example celiac disease)…To go further, maybe these perceptions even PREVENT us from seeking medical attention until things get real bad because we are skinny… If this is the case, This is a BIG problem.
I came back from the workshop and searched the internet for some connection, some research on body image and celiac disease, yet found nothing…How could that be possible? I couldn’t be the only one to think of this, could I? Consider this: In Europe, a variety of body shapes and sizes seems to be more tolerate across all cultures (from what I can tell). In addition, many countries also screen for celiac disease in childhood, or are more prone to screen in general. Patients even report an increased social knowledge of the disease. Is there a coincidence, or a factor of cultural body image?
So, I ask you:
1. Do you think our American culture’s views on Body Image and weight influences and/or hinder our treatment and/or diagnosis of Celiac Disease?
2. If you have Celiac Disease, did such perceptions have any impact on your seeking treatment and/or receiving and diagnosis?
Think hard and share, I want to know your story and I sure others do to.
In my next post about this I will share my story, and some other thoughts on the link between body image and celiac disease. Stay tuned and please share your story!