Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Prof. Wei-Chin Hwang

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The following thesis analyzes potential causes of Eating Disorder (ED) behavior. Using a thorough investigation of the research, with a focus on young girls and women, this thesis aims to provide some insight into social factors that may make certain communities more at risk for ED development. The communities that are at higher risk are communities with high levels of body-salience, meaning their cultural and social environments provide platforms for a great deal of body exposure and subsequent body awareness (e.g., in beach communities). This thesis first highlights the symptoms of ED development and then delves into potential causes. Next, it addresses how the current society defines attractive, and the resulting pressures from this standard. It then examines how this leads to phenomena such as Social Comparison Theory and its subsequent interaction with Objectification Theory, and addresses how these are key factors in ED development. It aims to use these frameworks to highlight why body-salient communities are particularly vulnerable due to their social nature. Finally, these concepts are extended to establish that in-person body comparisons lead to body dissatisfaction, which in turn leads to ED development. This is then applied to two body-salient communities, Australia and Hawaii, to demonstrate that they are at a higher risk and need proper attention. Despite a lack of research on body-salient communities, this thesis argues that these cultures are particularly at risk and should be further monitored and assessed.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.