Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

The myths surrounding eating disorders and minority women


Latinas and African American women are commonly perceived as having little to no

cases of eating disorders due to strong, cultural backgrounds - including family, a

supposed preference for larger, more curvaceous (curves) figures, and an overall

lack of importance regarding one's physical appearances.(7) In fact, disordered

eating, like anorexia and bulimia nervosa, have even been referred to as the,

¡°white girl's disease.¡±(8) However, most studies of eating disorders involving women of

color, often contradict that myth. (7) The following story of one Latina woman's

experience with anorexia, is quite appropriate to the topic of myths and


"After Karen [Carpenter] died and all the media coverage, I went to the doctor to tell him that I also had anorexia. I was severely underweight and my skin had a yellow undertone. After examining me he told me, ¡®You don't have anorexia, only white women can get that disease.' It was 10 years until I went to another doctor." (8)


To hear more stories from victims with eating disorders, including women of color, visit:


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This site was created by Cecilia Ortiz in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2004.