“I’m not White, I have to be pretty and skinny”: A qualitative exploration of body image and eating disorders among Asian American women.

The purpose of the current study was to examine the relationships between body image, eating disorders, and treatment seeking motivations among Asian American women in emerging adulthood (ages 18—24 years). A total of 26 Asian American women participated in qualitative focus groups of four to six individuals each from December 2015 to February 2016. Constructivist grounded theory was used to analyze focus group data. The resulting theoretical model, the “Asian American body image evolutionary model,” maintains that a central phenomenon of perceptions and interpretation of messages about body image and eating is rooted in three influencing factors: (a) societal influence of mainstream White culture and Asian culture, (b) interpersonal influences of immediate family and close others, and (c) individual influence. An individual’s perceptions and subsequent interpretation of messages may lead to disordered eating and decisions around treatment seeking. The model developed can be utilized by practitioners or clinicians to help obtain a better understanding of the societal, interpersonal, and intrapersonal forces that may shape conceptualizations about body image and eating behaviors among Asian American women. In addition, findings from this study can be incorporated into prevention programs and interventions that focus on mental health among this population. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)