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Feminist Cultural Studies: Borderline Eating Disorders

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  1. The insistence today is that women must be thin to be worthwhile.
  2. This need for physical restraint and control over the physical self is tied up with the idea that mind and body work more closely than some would like to believe.
  3. Women are known to develop eating disorders as a reaction to trauma as well (Schwartz and Cohn 17).
  4. As anorexic mindset, similar to that of an orthorexic, feels empowerment from being able to abstain from eating as a form of control (Bruch 74).
  5. These must be a balance between excessive weight control and indulgent self-acceptance without concern for personal health.
  6. Is the borderline eating disorder, if consciously known to its owner, a safe alternative, in need of treatment, or just as detrimental as an easily-named eating disorder?
  7. There are few clear answers, and half of the time, we do not even have a clear definition of the things we try to solve.

The idea of the ?borderline eating disorder? has been surfacing more and more recently in popular culture. Feminist theorists such as Susan Bordo and Hilde Bruch have been wrestling with this concept and its definition for quite some time. In order to address the borderline eating disorder, we must understand our culture's thin ideology and how that is perpetuated. It is also crucial to examine other sources of eating disorders, such as abuse and personal control, and what these sources mean to the eating disorder category. Ultimately, though such broad conclusions are hard to formulate, I hope that we can gain a better understanding of the origins of thin cultural standards, how those are played out on women's bodies and perceptions of themselves, and what the borderline eating disorder category means in comparison to the full-blown version so many view as the extreme.

[...] The line between these two is often referred to as a borderline eating disorder, which gives negative connotation to the issue without examining its meaning and results. In order to be healthy, one must be mindful of food intake and exercise, but to be able to accept yourself, you must learn to not be too hard on yourself. Is the borderline eating disorder a form of stability in an unstable world, or is it a signal that a person has a lack of balance? [...]


[...] As anorexic mindset, similar to that of an orthorexic, feels empowerment from being able to abstain from eating as a form of control (Bruch 74). Women who are starving themselves for psychological reasons have been documented as feeling superior to overweight and eating women (Schwartz and Cohn 57). Bruch warms of this intoxicated feeling overtaking one and becoming the focal point of much of her life (Bruch 73). Bordo refers to this mind versus body struggle as the dualist axis on which the body's denial of food becomes the mind's victory (146). [...]


[...] Women are known to develop eating disorders as a reaction to trauma as well (Schwartz and Cohn 17). Case studies of the correlations between sexual abuse and eating disorders show that female sexual abuse survivors are much more likely to develop eating control issues as a result of the incidents.[1] Left with feelings of inadequacy and powerlessness, a woman may search for control in her in any way possible. Countless memoirs have been written about eating disorders, and many reference a personal history of sexual trauma.[2] All of these biological, psychological, and cultural problems help create the standard eating disorder anorexia or bulimia for many women. [...]

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