Does Body Shaming Affect The Mental Health Of A Person?
Eating disorders are mental illnesses that cause serious disturbances in a person’s everyday diet. It can manifest as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating. The condition may begin as just eating too little or too much but the obsession with eating and food overtakes the life of a person, leading to severe changes. In addition to abnormal eating patterns are distress and concern about body weight or shape. These disorders frequently coexist with other mental illnesses such as depression, substance abuse or anxiety disorders.
“Step away from the mean girls and say bye-bye to feeling bad about your looks.
Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others.
This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the storyline that says you're too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.”
- Oprah Winfrey
We talked to a MAALA support group member, Hafsa Firdous about her journey to finally find her safe place in her own body.
“‘Enough!’ That’s what I told myself after realising that I am not working on myself to be better, rather I am punishing myself every day by gulping down those tasteless salads with some fancy sauce which did nothing to me but set me on a roller coaster of MOOD SWINGS and gave my taste buds a tough time,” Hafsa says
In this day and age of size 0 and Instagram worthy abs are young girls fighting away the craving of having a bite of their favourite chocolate or in almost every second restaurant bathroom is a girl puking out the food she just had. It’s not healthy to have salads with a negligent amount of nutrition to sipping on gallons of water. It certainly is not a good way to live either.
Hafsa further goes on about her battle with her own body, “My obnoxious beliefs, which I have finally set aside, made me believe that having a perfect body will fulfil all my desires and will take me to that place where I’ll have everything - my perfect world. A PERFECT BODY, yes, I know that’s too shallow of me. Hearing people constantly say this to me ‘Omg, you’ve got such a pretty face, why don’t you lose some weight?’ - crippled my heart like a piece of paper and made me feel like a loser, as if, I was worth nothing and it took me into a self-loathing zone.
I tried, I tried so hard that I injured my knee, my body faced tones of deficiencies and my mind, it was constantly reminding me of how worthless and incapable I am.”
Women are harmed at the highest rate from bulimia nervosa/anorexia in India at age 20-24. It was least harmful to women at age 5-9. At 104 years of healthy life lost per 100,000 women in 2013, the peak rate for women was higher than that of men, which was 26.6 per 100,000 men.
“People with eating disorders tend to be very diametrical thinkers – everything is the end of the world, everything rides on this one thing, and everyone tells you you're very dramatic, very intense, and they see it as an affectation, but it's actually just how you think. It really seems to you that the sky will fall if you are not personally holding it up. On the one hand, this is sheer arrogance; on the other hand, this is a very real fear. And it isn't that you ignore the potential repercussions of your actions. You don't think there are any. Because you are not even there.”
- Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia
Eating disorders are a daily struggle for 10 million females and 1 million males. Four out of ten individuals have either personally experienced an eating disorder or know someone who has.
Hafsa further talks about her experience, “It felt as if all my attempts were futile. Dereliction overpowered me and soon after, I was in the state of acceptance of failure. Sooner I realised that I had lost myself, yes, I had lost myself to this world.
After months of uncontrollable anxiety attacks and sleepless nights, contemplation triggered in and just in between my depression, I realised, was I doing all that for myself or for the people around me who believed that I had a pretty face or was I doing it for the world which constantly didn’t stop sabotaging my happiness?
I had turned into a reticent, who couldn’t even articulate her grievances. It was all within me until I could differentiate between doing something for myself and doing something for acceptance in the society.”
“There is never a sudden revelation, a complete and tidy explanation for why it happened, or why it ends, or why or who you are. You want one and I want one, but there isn't one. It comes in bits and pieces, and you stitch them together wherever they fit, and when you are done you hold yourself up, and still there are holes and you are a rag doll, invented, imperfect. And yet you are all that you have, so you must be enough. There is no other way.”
- Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia
It’s often hard to pick up your broken pieces and glue them back together. However, in this age which is obsessed with leading a dual life, it’s important to stay true to one’s self. It’s important to realise that life is bigger than the inches on our body
“Today, here I am, tearing apart through all the body shaming, keeping my head right up and doing something for myself and reaching near my goal every single day. Still, a long way to go. What gives me happiness right now is that everything is lucid around me, which therefore makes me feel content,” says Hafsa.
To know more about Hafsa’s story, reach out to her here. To gather support and get advice on eating disorder join our Maala community.