Gen-Y journalist Courtney E. Martin posed this question to herself, her friends, and to some of the so-called experts. Then she wrote a book called Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body.
The subtitle rocks--I love the juxtaposition of "normal" and "hating your body," which makes you stop and really think about it. Though I don't think there's anything new about the phenomenon. It was "normal" to hate your body when I grew up in the 1960s and 70s. Martin's point seems to be that the pressure to be thin has now morphed into the pressure to be perfect. The opening line of the review that ran in Publishers Weekly reads, "It is no longer enough for girls to be good . . . girls must now be perfect, and that need for perfection is played out in women's bodies."
I'll be curious to read the book and see if it lives up to its title . . . and what, exactly, Martin has to say about eating disorders.