‘Oh my god you’re so thin! You’re like totally anorexic’, said a friend in a tone that implied she was complimenting me. ‘Like, I wish I could be that thin’, there she went again. I stood there hardly able to believe that she literally told me that I could possibly be suffering from a mental disorder like it was the most normal thing in the world. But then again, she wasn’t the only one to feel that way or talk that way. The society that we are a part of it, one which is obsessed with the size of a girl, every inch of her, the society that considers size 0 the ‘IN’ thing has actually started treating anorexia like a fashion statement.
Through the years from magazines to our favourite celebrities, they have all knowingly or unknowingly promoted mental disorders like anorexia and bulimia. The glossy pages showing the before and after images of women after losing weight, the extreme diets promoted by celebrities to get that ‘perfect waistline’, it all adds up to become young teenage girls who hate the way they look each time they glance into the mirror.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, nearly 70 per cent of girls in grades five through 12 said magazine images influence their ideals of a perfect body. The age group most affected is 12-20-year-old girls. According to Dr. Jon Goldin, the glamorisation of emancipated women was a significant cause of eating disorders amongst girls. He also added that such eating disorders led to serious disorders like stunted growth, fertility problems, osteoporosis and even psychiatric damage.
“People have looked at me and said things like I was trying to be anorexic, not realising it is a disorder and not a joke,” says Harnoor Virk a final year university student. There is such less awareness in our society about these diseases that they get over shadowed a lot many times, times that have even taken many lives. According to the ANAD, 1 in every 5 anorexia deaths is by suicide. How worse can it get?
If the world treats obesity with the care and precaution that it is treated, then why not anorexia and bulimia too.
The funny thing is that people do not realise how easy it is for people suffering from these diseases to hide it. All you need is some makeup and a few baggy clothes and no one will ever be able to guess that there are ribs protruding out of the person’s body, or that their spinal cord hardly has any skin around it.
The amount of time and patience that it takes for a person suffering from such a disorder is insane.
Extremely thin girls have it just as bad as obese girls, in every way believe me. So if a person with obesity is given treatment and treated with extra care then why not someone with anorexia?
When did being thin become more important than being healthy?
Not every girl out there wants to be a Victoria Secret’s model, and why does a Victoria Secret’s model have to be thin anyway? Why is the size of a girl so important? We are more than 36-24-26, our bodies are way more than that, we as individuals are way way more than that. A few statistics don’t define us. Any of us.
Anshika Bindra a second-year university student says that she has been told she deliberately starves herself to stay thin when in reality she is a huge junk food lover. Some people just have a strong metabolism, they just do not gain weight. Not every thin girl (or boy) is anorexic and not every anorexic girl (or boy) let it show so easily.
Netflix’s latest movie ‘To the Bone’ describes the painful struggles of a woman suffering from anorexia. It takes us on a journey with Ellen (Eli) and her acceptance of her disorder. The movie shows the struggles of various kids suffering from the same disorders and yet how different their battles are, which also teaches us that no two people are the same. Some kids starved themselves, others purged and some simply accepted being put on tubes and suffer than even try and chew. The movie even shows how ignorant Ellie’s family is about her disorder, with her sister telling her to “just eat” and stop behaving the way she did. The movie shows true graphic images of how the body becomes when somebody struggles with such a disorder. No periods, no fertility, extremely low energy levels, mood swings, are some of the many symptoms shown throughout the film. It is a great way to educate someone about the monster these diseases are, feeding on the victim’s life. It is a great conversation starter that does not glamourize the disease at any point.
This is a great leap from movies like ‘The Best Little Girl In The World’ from the 1980s that perpetuated several eating disorder stereotypes, including the idea that eating disorders only strike the young and the pretty which is an extremely foolish idea. Eating disorders do not discriminate, they can happen to anyone and everyone— including both genders, all races, and at any age.
Awareness is being spread, there is no doubt about that. But if on one side we have an article on anorexia or bulimia and then on the very next page have a stick thin model talk about true beauty, it completely defeats the purpose. There is one thing saying that 0 is not a size and yet the glamour industry is still far in incorporating this rule.
Till then, we can try and buy into these images. Every fighter and survivor of an eating disorder should convey the truth about these illnesses by talking to people. The truth that people often die of anorexia, bulimia and those who don’t end up having permanent damage ranging from heart problem to diabetes.
We need to understand that most of the images portrayed in the media are altered to seem perfect. Real people have flaws, imperfect skin, bad hair days, and that is exactly what makes us each of us so different, and that is a thing to be valued not changed.