Vikten av vikten - en studie av gymnasieungdomars syn på förhållandet mellan ätstörning, normalitet och den ideala kroppen
The human body has more meaning than a physical part, both in action and mind. Many differentiated and contradictory feelings can be associated with the body; joy, pride and attraction, but also repulsion, disgust and despise. The main objective of this paper is to see how the relationship between eating disorder, normality and the ideal body is perceived by high school youth, and what meaning this perceiving has to them. The conception, and worrying about the body has for long been looked at as a “woman’s issue” and therefore much of the research about the subject has included only women because the issues not have been considered relevant to men (Striegel-Moore and Franko 2002). To create wide and depth in the paper, methodological triangulation with both quantitative and qualitative methods is used. The quantitative method is based on a questionnaire distributed to 176 high school youth. The qualitative method consists of nine semi-structured interviews. The theoretical framework is based mainly on a social constructionists’ perspective, but is completed of other theories and concepts such as symbolic interactionism, normality, identity and gender. The main conclusion is that appearance has great importance for the youth who participated in the study. One who gains a lot of weight risk to be left by his or hers friends, and one who starts as ugly from the beginning does rarely get a fair chance of a friendship with the more attractive peers. Appearance is shown to matter a lot for both sexes, but since the body ideal for girls is a lot narrower than for boys, the girls' efforts are more likely to lead to destructive ways of action. Boys on the other hand, can choose between several body ideals. In the long run it leads to that boys often feel more at ease with their bodies, and have more healthy ways of actions to form their body. More than every fourth girl being part of the study has one time or more thrown up the food she just ate in pursuit of the ideal body. The corresponding number for boys is significantly lower. The concepts eating disorder, normality and the ideal body have a close relationship. The ideal body is in the center, but none of the concepts can be defined without the others, because without the disturbed or the normal body there would not be any ideal body to strive for.