Several WIN Wyoming members sent me an article a few months ago by Ellen Goodman of the
Washington Post Writers Group. The article appeared in the Casper Star Tribune on
June 1, 1999. Goodmans article highlighted research completed by Anne Becker, an
anthropologist and psychiatrist, who directs research at the Harvard Eating Disorders
The article describes the marked difference in body image perceptions on the South
Pacific Island of Fiji before and after the arrival of television to the island in 1995.
- Prior to 1995, big truly was considered beautiful in Fiji. A typical exchange of remarks
between women was often along the lines of: "You look wonderful. Youve gained
weight." Fijians often consumed herbs to stimulate appetite.
- Within just 38 months of the arrival of television, the number of teens at risk for
eating disorders had doubled to 29%. In the post television era, 74% of Fiji teens felt
they were too fat, and 62% of teens had dieted in the past month.
- In three years and with only one television channel, a culture that had defined fat as
robust and healthy defined fat as repulsive.
- In Goodmans words, "...the big success of our entertainment industry is our
ability to export insecurity. We can make any woman anywhere feel perfectly rotten about
Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD
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