She was at another of the countless ‘dawats’, while she watched the trolley being rolled in laden with mouth-watering delights and mentally sighed as it came to a halt right in front of her. The tempting pasta decorated with layers of cheese stared at her as if daring her to try. But she knew the consequences if she chose to indulge herself. She was an average girl in her late-teens and the idea of putting on weight was so unbearable to her that she was willing to forgo the delicious food life had to offer.
This is the story of not one but many such girls who starve themselves. The reason why these girls feel the need to remain thin can be attributed to the media. The media has succeeded in associating the concept of looking good with being thin and this belief is ingrained in our mindsets that we by default have started judging people in terms of their ‘thinness’.
The constant display of unnaturally slim models on television and advertisements sends a message that in order to be beautiful being thin is a must. According to a psychology professor Shelly Grabe “If the image is appearance -ocused and sends a clear message about a woman’s body, then it’s going to affect women.”
Girls still in their early teens start skipping meals because they don’t want to put on weight. Figures indicate that 50 per cent of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight.
Where young women idolise to be as thin as Anne Hathaway or Kareena Kapoor (who initiated the size zero trend), teenage girls look up to Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. These celebrities are the definition of a ‘perfect’ body; in fact, Demi Lovato herself was diagnosed with anorexia.
We are unable to think beyond what we see, and hence believe it to be true. The models that we see on television and magazines represent only 5 per cent of real women. It is ironic that what most women strive to achieve is actually unattainable.
Magazines, newspapers and social media websites are splashed with advertisements for fitness centres, reminding us that we need to gain that perfect body. The growing trend in diet clinics and slimming centres is worrying because some of the people who go to these clinics aren’t exactly obese.
Dieting is not something bad; it means to eat in regulation. But today, dieting has taken on a new meaning. It has become another word — a euphemism of sorts — for starvation.
Even though some celebrities have gone public with their eating disorders and are seeking treatment, more needs to be done.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2016.
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