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Women’s Body Image, Disordered Eating, And Religion: A Critical Review Of The Literature

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Chapter Summary

This chapter offers a critical examination of evidence on the relationship between women's religiosity and their body image and eating behavior. It focuses on women exclusively because pathological forms of eating and body image are much more common in women than men. In addition, eating and body image problems that are below clinical threshold are pervasive among women. Before reviewing the literature on women's eating/body image and religion, the chapter describes several basic ways in which these constructs may be related. Then, it describes many clinical case studies of highly pathological women and reviews quantitative empirical studies, some on samples of women diagnosed with eating disorders and some on normal non-diagnosed women. A conclusion, drawn from the quantitative studies on diagnosed and non-diagnosed women, is that women's religion and body image/eating behavior are rarely linked in unhealthy ways but often linked in positive and healthy ways.

Keywords:body image; eating disorders; religiosity; women



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