Navigate to News section

Jewish Girls Not Immune to Self-Destructive Behaviors

Reveals a new survey

Hadara Graubart
November 03, 2009

In her last column on the Huffington Post, Leslie Goldman, author of Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth About Women, Body Image, and Re-Imagining the “Perfect” Body, made some pretty bold assertions: “To be Jewish is to have an eating disorder,” she wrote, adding that “Jewish women are the authority on this body image stuff.” This month, she presents the results of a Jewish Women International survey of 200 Jewish day school principals, camp directors, and the like on their experiences with girls and “self-destructive behaviors” including eating disorders, self-mutilation, and bullying.

Eating disorders ranked as the number one concern, followed by bullying (number one among girls aged 9-11), and JWI found that problems with substance abuse and risky sexual behavior rise precipitously when dealing with girls aged 12-15. While it’s unclear exactly whether the available data support the idea that Jews are somehow more at risk for specific behaviors because of cultural factors, as Goldman has asserted, it can’t hurt to have someone taking note that “Girls everywhere are suffering; we owe it to the younger generation to help undo the damage done by impossibly high academic standards, the media’s portrayal of unrealistic bodies and Photoshopped beauty, and the whirlwind of other factors which combine to make young women feel like they don’t measure up.”

Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.

Join Us!

All of Tablet’s latest stories—in your inbox, daily. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Please enter a valid email
Check iconSuccess! You have subscribed to the Tablet newsletter.