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Polygence Scholar2022
Pallavi Shankar's profile

Pallavi Shankar

Amador Valley HighschoolClass of 2023Pleasanton, California


Hello! My name is Pallavi Shankar and my Polygence project is about how the spread of western media influenced eating disorders in Fijian women. I chose to work on this project because I am passionate about the subject of psychology and I love to learn about the different cultures of our world. After my project is complete, I would like to work on another psychology research project on a different group of people in another country.


  • "How has westernization influenced eating disorders in Fiji?" with mentor Wendy (Oct. 2, 2022)

Project Portfolio

How has westernization influenced eating disorders in Fiji?

Started June 6, 2022

Abstract or project description

The presence of eating disorders has currently been on a rise worldwide accounting for about 3.3 million deaths worldwide. It is important to understand not only the risk factors of eating disorders such as genetics and chemical imbalances in the brain, but also historical events and cultural exchanges that have changed countries forever. Specifically, the colonization and spread of western influence on smaller countries such as Fiji by growing powers like the British crown did not only bring over people, but also the cultural ideals such as beauty standards. The Fijian original beauty standard listed those with fuller, more athletic bodies. Being told “you have gained weight” was taken as a compliment showing that one is well cared for. However, after British colonization occurred, that standard shifted towards being thinner. The British were portrayed as superior to the native people, and because the native people were powerless to the growing nation, they believed it. From generation to generation, these ideals have been passed down. Using other literature resources, we have found other specific factors of western influence that have accounted for this rise in eating disorders. Colonization was only the beginning of the major spread and glorification of western influence. We can see western influence spread in sources such as television, magazines, social media, and etc. The recent introduction of Western media through television shows in Fiji has only led to an increase of eating disorders. This increase is not only prevalent in smaller islands such as Fiji or the Pacific Islands, but also bigger countries such as India that have been taken over by the British crown and other western powers.