Culture and Weight Consciousness
Routledge – 1997 – 160 pages
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are among the few psychiatric syndromes with a plausible socio-cultural model of causation. Issues of culture and slimness are usually considered in terms of the experience of the western world, but there is a growing body of research suggesting that concern with slimness is becoming more prevalent in non-western cultures.
In Culture and Weight Consciousness, Mervat Nasser brings together this research and looks at the recent emergence of eating disorders in cultures that were previously free of such problems. She relates the feminist theories that have been put forward to explain the phenomenon of eating disorders in the west to the condition of modern women in many non-western cultures and concludes that their position is not at all that different from that of their western counterparts. This leads her to address the current limitations of the concept of culture and draw out the implications for future research.
'This is a brief book with universal ambitions. I enjoyed it, and I am sure that any student of eating disorders will find it both fascinating and provocative.' - The Lancet
'[Mervat Nasser] writes with the greatest insight and knowledge about her own well-known studies into eating disorders in Cairo and Britain, and the position of women in Egypt.' - European Council on Eating Disorders Newsletter
'I enjoyed this book. It is clearly the fruit of wide reading and reflection. Dr Nasser offers a fresh perspective on eating disorders in non-western cultures and speculates on a series of major themes - women's roles and expectations, feminism and globalization - to shed light on the aetiology of eating disorders worldwide. One does not have to agree with all the author's judgements to find much that is stimulating in this book.' - European Eating Disorders Review