Women of Color & Eating Disorders

Once thought to be a problem for middle to upper class white women only, it is now acknowledged that people of all sexes and all socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds experience eating disorders.

Because of the complexities inherent in navigating gender, race, ethnicity, and the meanings of food and weight, women of color can have widely differing experiences of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.  In fact, research suggests that eating disorders present differently among different ethnic and racial groups, and that clinicians may miss opportunities to detect and treat disorders in women of color because they lack an understanding of these differences.

The links below highlight research and resources focused on eating disorders and body image in women of color.  We believe that these resources speak to the diverse experiences of women of color around this issue.

For any Brown student concerned about food or body image, we want you to know that confidential help is available.  These resources are listed below.   If you are worried that a friend has an eating disorder, click here for information and resources.


An adjunct to the NOVA documentary, Dying to Be Thin, this webpage confronts the stereotypical image of a person with an eating disorder, and addresses eating disorders among men, African-American women, Latinas, and other minority women.

Blacks Join the Eating Disorder Mainstream.  This 2005 NY Times article presents the challenge of African-American women to withstand the prevailing cultural standards of beauty, and to have their eating disorders diagnosed and adequately treated.

This 2009 update from the American Psychological Association reviews new horizons in the research and treatment of eating disorders, including addressing disparities in for men and people of color.

back to top

Resources at Brown

BWell Health Promotion 401.863-2794
Located on the third floor of Health Services.
Confidential information or care is available through individual appointments with a Nutritionist.  Students can discuss personal eating concerns, as well as any concerns they may have regarding a friend, a roommate, or a teammate.Health Promotion also offers workshops, pamphlets, and reading materials covering these and related issues. There are no fees for Health Promotion services.

University Health Services 401.863-3953
Located at the corner of Brown and Charlesfield streets.
Confidential information and care is available on a walk-in, or by scheduled appointment basis. Care is available for initial, current or past disordered eating patients. There are no fees for medical care at Health Services. However, there may be fees incurred if laboratory tests, medications, specialist or emergency hospital care is needed.

Counseling and Psychological Services 401.863-3476
Located on the fifth floor of J. Walter Wilson.
Confidential appointments are available at Counseling and Psychological Services for students concerned about their eating issues. Guidance is also available for those who are concerned about a friend, roommate, or teammates' eating. Services include crisis intervention, short-term psychotherapy and referrals. There are no fees for appointments at Counseling and Psychological Services.

Other Resources

National Eating Disorders Association
The NEDA website provides general information about eating disorders and body image concerns, tips for helping a friend and referral sources.

Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina by Rosie Molinary
Molinary polls 500 Latinas from diverse backgrounds about their experience of navigating between cultures, and shares her own struggle to “reconcile the two realities.”

Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance, by Rosie Molinary
A follow-up to Hijas Americanas, Beautiful You incorporates practical techniques into a 365-day action plan that empowers women to regain a healthy self-image, shore up self-confidence, reframe and break undermining habits of self-criticism, and champion their own emotional and physical well-being.

Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image, by Ophira Edut
Edut, founder and publisher of the magazine HUES (Hear Us Emerging Sisters), and creator of the Adios Barbie website, assembles more than 25 contributors who argue eloquently for a diverse and self-defined experience of beauty.

The World Has Curves: The Global Quest for the Perfect Body, by Julia Savacool
Journalist Savacool travels the world talking to women and exploring how body ideals—in the U.S. and abroad—have become inescapably linked to the economics of a culture, and the impact of globalization.

back to top


Disclaimer: BWell Health Promotion is part of Health Services at Brown University. Health Promotion maintains this site as a resource for Brown students. This site is not intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. No site can replace real conversation. Health Promotion offers no endorsement of and assumes no liability for the currency, accuracy, or availability of the information on the sites we link to or the care provided by the resources listed. Health Services staff are available to treat and give medical advice to Brown University students only. If you are not a Brown student, but are in need of medical assistance please call your own health care provider or in case of an emergency, dial 911. Please contact us if you have comments, questions or suggestions.