Do you cringe every time you hear the word ‘fat’? Are you on a diet all year round? Do you exercise compulsively? Do you have a preoccupation with weight loss? Are you unhappy? – Answering ‘yes’ to any of these may indicate a serious problem.
When does it become a cause of concern?
When thousands of young girls are losing their lives
When thousands of bright young girls live in depression because they value themselves based on their appearance
When thousands of girls are not leading normal, healthy lives
When thousands of girls waste their years of youth in hospitals
When thousands of girls torture themselves by starving so that they get the ideal body
When thousands of girls are damaging their bodies
When the next victim could be your fashion conscious sister………
Wanting to be thin is more than just a phase in some young girl’s life. It’s an obsession and it’s necessary to identify that it is indeed a dangerous one.
A magazine survey asked readers “What would make you happiest?” A total of 42% put weight loss at the top of their lists. That’s more than a sizable number to raise concerns.
It is estimated that millions of people suffer from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating. Sufferers use self-destructive eating behaviors to deal with psychological problems that may go much deeper than her/his obsession with food and weight. Food is simply used as a dysfunctional means of coping with psychological problems. In many cases, the individual may not even acknowledge the fact that he/she has a problem until it is too late.
With the increasing number of people worldwide being affected by the tainted ideas of what is acceptable with respect to weight, it is time the media sat up and took responsibility for the images it portrays and the havoc it wreaks on people’s lives.
The concept that ‘Thin is beautiful’ has been embedded in the minds of young women all over the world and they are willing to do any thing to obtain ‘The ultimate body”. Whom do we blame for this?
Primarily the fashion world: International fashion designers are making a very strong statement by using only waif like models to wear their clothes on the ramp. A statement that holds such valuable meaning for so many all over the world. These models are glorified by titles like “Super model of the year” and they become the definition of what is beautiful and fashionable. Every single woman’s magazine features a skinny model on the cove and carries articles on how to lose weight. With that kind of power, is it any wonder that fashion worshippers try to live by these guidelines. Its time to take responsibility.
The media leads us to believe that woman with low weights and svelte shapes will be happier, more sophisticated and better at their careers by providing us with role models like the popular, but extremely scrawny Calista Flockhart of Ally McBeal.
In this thin-obsessed world, our weight almost dictates our emotional well being – our self-image, self-esteem, confidence and happiness. Diets, exercise, fasts – anything to shed those extra pounds.
Anjali, a college student says, ” I hate being fat. I feel ugly. I can’t wear the clothes I want, I feel too self-conscious to do half the things my friends do.”
How do you know whether you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder? What are the telltale signs?
Anorexics are often preoccupied with dieting and thinness which leads to excessive weight loss. Bulimia can involve purging or vomiting, abusing laxatives and/or diuretics, exercising compulsively and/or fasting. The bulimic may not be visibly underweight and may even be slightly overweight. Bingeing or compulsive over eating involves uncontrolled eating usually kept secret. Bingeing and purging is often followed by intense feelings of guilt and shame.
Here are some of the symptoms:
- A preoccupation with food and weight (i.e. counting calories, excessive dieting, weighing oneself several times per day)
- “feeling fat” when weight is normal or even low; individual experiences “body distortion” (they perceive their shape to be something other than it is).
- Guilt and shame about eating; not wanting to eat in front of other people.
- Evidence of binge eating, hoarding of food, use of laxatives, diuretics, purgatives, and emetics.
- Excessive exercise; exercising to lose weight not to get fit.
- Emotional changes: moodiness, depression, irritability, and social withdrawal.
- Extreme concern about appearance.
- Using the bathroom frequently after meals
- Swollen glands in neck and face § Heartburn, bloating, dental problems
- Irregular periods
- Constipation, indigestion
- Sore throat, vomiting blood
- Weakness, exhaustion
- Bloodshot eyes
- Hair loss
- Fainting spells
- Lying about food
- How can an eating disorder effect your life?
Eating disorders have serious psychological ramifications. The depression, shame and agonizing sense of isolation caused by eating disorders disrupts families, interrupts schooling, damages careers bright with promise and destroys relationships.
Medically anorexia and the like can lead to shrunken organs, gall bladder disease, diabetes, bone mineral loss, which can lead to osteoporosis, low body temperature, low blood pressure, slowed metabolism and reflexes as well as irregular heartbeat, which can lead to cardiac arrest. Without treatment, the future for men and women with eating disorders is bleak. But with psychological counseling and medical evaluations (sometimes in conjunction with nutritional counseling and medication), people can recover. Sufferers can develop appropriate inner resources and look forward to living normal, productive and happy lives.
An eating disorder is an illness. Do not ignore it, it will not go away and it is almost always fatal. If you suspect that you, or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder please consult a doctor. It is hard and it will take every single psychological resource you have in order to deal with the problem, but consider the alternative……