Publication Date

2000

Abstract

I have always had an interest in women's health -- both physical and mental. While working for the International Rescue Committee (an international not-for-profit agency which resettles refugees in the United States) I noticed that, although I worked with women from several countries, it was really only with other Americans, or women who grew up in the US, that body-image, and subsequently, self-esteem, was discussed. This made me wonder if body image was as great an issue for the non-American women and if not, why not? From this question I began to consider how forced migration, loss, separation from loved ones, and various levels of trauma affected the self-esteem of refugee women. Were different attitudes developed toward their bodies/ beauty in general? How did they relate to their bodies? Was there a relationship between self-esteem and body image in refugee women? I wondered what role their identified cultures played in their new lives in the US and how they expressed or perceived themselves within the new culture. This led to the formation of the question for this research.

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