Women With Eating Disorders Earn Less Money, Study Says. So That Sucks
There are a lot of ways that having an eating disorder can screw up your life, and apparently the list is only getting longer. According to a new study, women with eating disorders earn less money than those not suffering from them. So that's just... awful.
The study, which was published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, looked at 166 men and 454 women who reported that they had been diagnosed with an eating disorder or with disordered eating. The study found that the women in the study were “at a distinct disadvantage when trying to achieve socioeconomic independence in early adulthood,” at least compared to the average American woman. The women in the study earned 13 percent less and their odds of owning a home were 27 percent lower. They also had slightly less education.
The study found that men with eating disorders, on the other hand, did not experience similar negative consequences.
"My suspicion is that girls who are preoccupied with weight and appearance and insecure at very young age — that follows you," said Jennifer Tabler, the study's lead author and a PhD candidate at the University of Utah. “Your decision-making process about your life choices are going to be affected by it.”
Which, unfortunately, sounds all too plausible.
Basically, this all sucks. Not only are women more likely to have eating disorders than men, but women suffer more negative consequences beyond the obvious mental and physical effects. Which sadly also makes sense.
It's easy to imagine how women who are so focused on their appearance, or for whom food causes significant stress or difficult emotion, might not be as focused on their career or education, potentially leading to lower grades or lower job performance which of course can effect earnings.
But if that were all there was to it, wouldn't we also expect to see men with eating disorders earning less as well?
The difference may lie in the way in which our society constantly sends women the message that our worth as humans is tied to our appearance. We live in a culture that stresses the importance of looking good (according to arbitrary social standards) for everyone, but men are not reduced to their appearance in the way that women are. Which means that women who struggle with eating disorders may be more likely than their male companions to not just have negative views of their bodies, but also of themselves. And this, in turn, could affect their career prospects in a big way.
All of which is obviously super unfair, and all the more reason that we really need to be promoting body diversity and body acceptance in our culture. And in the meantime, we need to do a better job of supporting and treating the women who are grappling with these issues. Because eating disorders suck enough on their own without messing up your professional life as well.