anorexia and the naked body

yesterday, at a lovely meeting of the vancouver chapter of valley women’s network, i met laara atley, originally from finland, the land of saunas. we were talking about body image, plastic surgery and the like when laara made the very valid comment that people who were brought up in a culture where nakedness is normal (such as in finland), an obsession with body image may not be nearly as prevalent as here in north america.

i tried to find some research on this but other than marilyn story’s comparison of body self-concept between social nudists and nonnudists i have not found much so far. (this research found that nudists tend to have a better body image than non-nudists).

this makes sense. for example, body image distortion is something that frequently comes with anorexia. it is widely believed that anorexia is at least partly caused by a culture that emphasizes the (more or less unattainable) image of an idealized, thin, “perfect” body. now if a person never has a chance to see a wide range of nude bodies, it is very easy for them to have a distorted image of nude bodies in general. it’s easy to then go and figure that one’s own body should look the way these idealized bodies look (because that’s the only comparison there is). without any “normal” reference points, it would be quite difficult to construct a realistic image of one’s own body.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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