These days all anyone wants — myself included —is to be the size of a twig. I don’t know what happened or how a screw went loose somewhere in my brain. But I became convinced that being emaciated became the ideal body type. And, as I interview more and more people on my morning show, I’m discovering that the chief concern for most people is to ‘lose weight’.
There was a supermodel in the 1960s called Twiggy. She was known for her boyish looks and ‘twig-like’ figure. Many women of that era wanted to be her. She was 5 feet 6 inches tall, which is fairly short for a model, and she weighed only 51 kilograms. However, she was that size naturally and didn’t engage in any unrealistic fad dieting to look that way. Now, here’s some food for thought: a girl who was called Twiggy because she looked like a stick now thinks that today’s models are just too thin!
A friend of mine recently lost about 30 kilograms. She was looking thin as a rail, but also haggard and grey. Some common friends came to me six weeks ago and asked me to have a word with her. Apparently, she was not only bulimic (vomiting after binge eating everyday), but also consuming a cocktail of weight-loss pills banned everywhere else in the world except Pakistan.
Then, three weeks ago, on my morning show, I conducted a special programme on kidney transplants. The case study that the doctor brought along was a beautiful girl who was a plus size. She had recently undergone major kidney transplant surgery. When I asked her the reason for both her kidneys failing, she told me she had gone to herbalists and nutritionists as well as consumed a variety of weight loss pills to lose weight. She didn’t realise that not only was all this not helping her lose weight, it was destroying her kidneys. After three years of dialysis she finally had to get a transplant.
These stories are only some of many that we hear almost every day. Horror stories of liposuction-gone-wrong and herbal water causing organ failure are common in the social media. And all that, just to look like a stick!
How does one break out of the social obsession with losing weight? The first thing to do is to completely avoid social media. The more you read and see people who are unnaturally thin the more you convince yourself that that’s the way you should look.
Another thing to do is to keep yourself busy. A lot of people, including myself, eat out of sheer boredom. If weight loss is part of your life plan, then occupy yourself with healthy non-food related activities. Go for a walk every day. Take up cycling, pick up a sport or go to the gym. Also get involved in community service. Do things that satisfy your soul. Happy people rarely binge eat.
One thing we do to torture ourselves, is buy clothes a couple of sizes too small in the hope that we will fit in them one day. You need to dress the body that you have now. When you lose weight, then you can treat yourself with a new wardrobe. Until then, torturing yourself will not help: the body you had when you were 16 years old just isn’t possible at 30.
Thin will always be thin and muscular will always be muscular. It doesn’t matter what the stupid weighing scale says. Having muscles and a toned body, will help you look young and healthy, much more so than being rail-thin and anorexic. In the desperation to be thin, we often forget that our face is more visible than the rest of our bodies. And our face suffers the most from crazy black coffee/high protein diets.
We also have to learn to respect other people’s bodies. In Pakistan, not only do we tend to fat-shame and skinny-shame people, but we also love to comment on skin colour. Don’t let your own internal complexes lead you to make nasty comments about others. If you can’t love the body you are in, then don’t hate the bodies others have. Nobody deserves that kind of treatment.
Try to remember that you should love your body because it is what carries your soul. Nobody is born perfect and it is just not possible to achieve the crazy notion of perfection we carry in our brain. Work out, eat well and focus on improving your soul. That is what will ultimately lead to happiness.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2016.
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