Bringing Up Biology
So this whole life-size Barbie doll created a spark of discussion not just on my blog, but also on the Today show. Take a look at a clip from this morning’s show via Hulu:
Did you notice that one word was absent from this discussion of eating disorders? One aspect of the discussion that is so frequently ignored, here and elsewhere?
I’m not trying to ignore culture and the ins and outs of people’s lives that can have a significant effect on the development of an eating disorder. I’m not trying to say that an eating disorder is “just” biology, because the idea that anything is either biological or cultural is pretty ludicrous.
But biology is pretty much absent from our discussions about eating disorders in the mass media. Sure, people will mention that genetics influence eating disorders, but the discussion stops there. Of course, biology is being mentioned, which it wasn’t just a few short years ago. Still, the notion that eating disorders are rooted in biology and have an actual neurological basis is rarely mentioned in most stories about eating disorders.
So often, media stories file eating disorders under one or two major causes: unrealistic beauty images and control issues. There might be lip service to ideas about neuroscience and genetics and biology, but it doesn’t get much discussion. And that bugs me. I don’t want a slew of cookie cutter stories on eating disorders, blathering on and on about DNA and nothing else. Eating disorders are very complicated and biology is one aspect of the story.
But it’s a big aspect. It explains so much about why people get sick and why they have such a hard time getting better. And we (as a community, as a culture) basically ignore it.
It’s something that continues to baffle me. We talk about biology in lots of other contexts–why are eating disorders so different? Why are we so resistant to bringing up the biology factor?