(SMH) An increase in 'Desperate Housewives syndrome'–Women with eating disorders in middle age

Experts agree that the way celebrities portray themselves on our screens is piling on the pressure for ordinary older women to look just as good.

There’s been an increase in the number of women experiencing eating disorders in middle age according to Professor Phillipa Hay, Foundation Chair of Mental Health at the University of Western Sydney. Hay says a rise in body image and weight and shape concerns is to blame. “There may be more pressures on older women to retain the appearance of youth,” she says and “there may be more pressures to be a ‘super woman’ ”“ successful in the workplace and at home and ‘looking good’ as well.”

Celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie, “appear to ‘prove’ that thinness in midlife bestows many real-life benefits, for example, sexual desirability, happiness, and wealth that may be particularly persuasive,” said a recent study in Psychology of Women Quarterly co-authored by Professor Marika Tiggemann, a psychologist and body image expert at Flinders University. The research, which looked at the influence of television shows such as Desperate Housewives on women aged between 35 and 55 concluded that “exposure to thin idealised images in media content may have an adverse impact on body image and eating practices in midlife.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Health & Medicine, Middle Age, Movies & Television, Women

3 comments on “(SMH) An increase in 'Desperate Housewives syndrome'–Women with eating disorders in middle age

  1. Sarah says:

    And yet we have a massive quantity of US citizens obese — not just “overweight” but obese.

    I don’t think that the percentage of Americans who have the eating disorders that create extreme thinness is that high. The percentage of Americans who have eating disorders that create extreme obesity is quite high.

  2. Suzanne Gill says:

    There is nothing new here. Call it what you want in 2012, but every woman under the age of 65 has had Barbie laughing at her from the seat of a Corvette convertible since she reached the age of consciousness.

  3. R. Eric Sawyer says:

    I think it is not so much that there is a problem of eating disorders that cause excessive consumption or that cause excessive thinness, as disordered relationship with food, simple. And this with two opposite manifestations.

    Sort of like growing up with a very intense authority figure/parent often leads to one of two opposite bondages: excessive Identification, where the authority is placed on a pedestal and nothing subject to review, let alone challenge, or Reaction Formation, where nothing that figure has ever done or ever can do can be seen in a positive light. I have known more than one set of siblings of just such an intense parental presence, where one “good child” saw “St. Daddy” as a perfect demi-god to be copied and appeased at every possibility, and the other child saw the same person as practically demonic, whose only redeeming quality was that he was not satan himself –just his nearest follower. Of course, neither child was right, and both were equally controlled by their past.

    Probably our infatuation with thinness and our increasing girth are similarly two sides of the same coin.

    As I think I remember from George MacDonald –
    “What does it matter whether it is things you don’t have, or things you have… so long as it is ‘things’ that bind you?”