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Things that matter

Writing about anything and everything that matters to me.

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Mental health

Reminders

1. You deserve happiness. All of it.
2. All things are not your fault. Sometimes things don’t work out, some things aren’t meant to be, you’re allowed to make mistakes. Let it go.
3. You don’t need to fit in the societal ideal of beautiful to be beautiful. YOU are beautiful.
4. Don’t be somebody’s “pretty girl” because you’re so much more than just pretty.
5. Your radiance can light up the entire sky, believe me.
6. It is okay to let alcohol swim in your veins at 3 am while you’re sitting alone and wondering why you feel the way you do and why nothing seems to fill in the void in your heart. It is okay to scream and cry and throw things.
7. Sometimes, love will not last forever. Sometimes, the one you love will not love you back. Sometimes, the one that sets your soul on fire will be cold as ice. Sometimes, you will face rejection. Sometimes, you will see love fading away. It happens. But don’t let this stop you from loving. Love, proclaim your love, let love be there for you.
8. Do not romanticize the pain, the sadness and the loneliness. Don’t romanticize broken hearts. Don’t romanticize the feelings that let you destroy yourself for somebody else.
9. I know it is hard and sometimes seems to be impossible, but, love yourself. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you’re currently feeling or how somebody you trusted and loved left and made you feel. Love yourself. Don’t bring others down to feel better about yourself.
10. It is okay to question your sexuality and gender. It is okay to not choose a “side”. It is okay to be yourself. Don’t let your genitals define you.
11. Be afraid but don’t let fear control you.
12. Tell your friends you love them. Because lovers come and go. Friends are there for you, forever.
13. Believe in yourself. You’ll be fine. You live your life. You don’t know what life is and what will happen in future and it is fine. You’ll be fine. Live your life enough to be sure that you’re living with no regrets. Kiss people. Try new things. Be dramatic. Do whatever you think will help you love and be yourself. Live.
~ 13 things I preach but wish to incorporate in my life.

Sadness

The alarm goes off, you don’t want to get up. You sleep more for a while. Think about the things you “need to do” and get up anyway. You wear the same old clothes skip breakfast because you’re late, shut your mind off because your own thoughts distract you.
All you think about is getting back to your bed because you’re tired. Physically, maybe not. Sleeping for 12 hours doesn’t change anything but you haven’t been able to sleep for that long in so long. Maybe this is the worst kind of tired because all you want is to slip back to thoughtless pits where you don’t know what is happening.
But you keep looking for something to look forward to and nothing makes sense to you anymore because all the TV shows or books you liked don’t give you pleasure anymore and going out seems useless too. But there are times your friends say something and you smile but as soon as that moment passes, so does the happiness. Nothing changes.
People keep telling you how it could’ve been worse. So you think about the better things like that one person who loves you or how your parents are sometimes proud of you or how you’ll receive the shoes you ordered in a day. But these thoughts don’t make you feel any better because you’re numb. And this numbness is always translated to ungratefulness. “Such a bitch for not acknowledging her privilege and crying all the time”.

You feel worse for complaining ALL THE TIME. You always turn down invitations because you don’t want to make plans, always force your laughter, always attend enough number of events to make people believe you’re okay. But this doesn’t help because you didn’t CHOOSE to be sad. You wouldn’t choose to be unhappy and hopeless and so numb all the time.
You believe there is only one way to push the sadness away. Purpose, a successful relationship, money or friends. But you can’t find purpose of you’re in bed all the time. You can’t find love if you feel too worn out to meet new people. The sadness gives birth to more sadness and you’re stuck in the loop.
Maybe some day the sadness will go away, but I know. I know, it will always come back.

AM I PRETTY?

 

Looks,appearance,clothes,size and all these peripheral things hold immense importance in this day and age and affect each one of us,knowingly or unknowingly.From birth we see beauty ideals on TV and in our toys and thus start considering it ‘normal’.[

For example,Barbies. Many young girls believe that every normal girl looks like the doll,that the Barbie figure and skin are imperative.These perceptions form unknowingly.

 

How many of us have complained about our size, looked at the mirror and seen an ugly person stare back? At least I have.I was reading about ‘ugliest woman on earth’.She is anorexic. When she was 12,somebody called her ‘too fat to exist’,and that changed her. One small comment spoiled this woman’s entire life. She can never be okay,never truly live. It’s saddening to see young people ‘striving for the perfect body’. Wasn’t childhood the period of innocence when all we cared about was what to play and eat?

Media plays a major role in setting up this mindset. Ads have only airbrushed photoshopped thin women and muscular men,and when we look at them and compare, we realize we look different,not “desirable”,perhaps. We have constructed some unwritten norms about the way a person should look,what is ‘attractive’ and what is ‘ugly’.

 

So what is body image? ‘Body image is the picture we have of our bodies at rest or in motion at any moment. It is from internal sensations,postural changes,contact with outside objects and people,and our emotional experiences and fantasies’ (Freedman 1998, Salkin 1973). According to Hutchinson (1985), body image includes feelings,attitudes,and beliefs about our bodies. Basically,it is what we think of ourselves and what image of self we have in our minds.

Symmetrical features,voluminous hair,long neck,busty and voluptuous or totally skinny girls are what media projects as beautiful.All the airbrushed models give complexes to women, young and old alike.One in four adolescent girls have admitted that they follow a diet.For young men; tall,dusky,handsome and strong,groomed the ideal. However,these pressures are mostly linked to depression in case of women because of the constant ‘need to look sexy’.

While the media portrays this image of perfection,we feel the need to conform to it and every time we see ourselves in the mirror, all we see is our imperfections staring back. We are too fat,too thin,too dark,too short or too anything that is not perfect.

But who gets to decide what a “good” body is? The very flesh and blood you occupy is a social construction. Does body image issue depend on our gender? Yes.

We become aware of our looks and compare ourselves to others from a very young age.

Children (2-12):

By the age of two,a child has a clear sense of ‘me’.They start recognizing themselves in pictures and in the mirror while developing a sense of pride and shame. By four,they are able to compare themselves to others.By eight, the child can compare the self to all the peer members and they start evaluating themselves in four categories: Academic,Social,Athletic and Appearance.

In the age group of four to six,the child starts thinking about their weight and shape.They also understand the social rejection to ‘fat’, are concerned about their clothes and hair.The kids in this age group want to ‘grow up’ and their sense of grown up life is seen from their TV shows and toys.Girls desire to be thin and have long hair like their barbies.The boys aspire to be muscular like their action figures.Recent studies reveal that roughly 50% of children in the age group of six to twelve are dissatisfied with their bodies.

Children are influenced by parental comments,toys,peers too. There is a concurrent relationship between these factors and body image.Take media, for example,We see in films how thin women are always attractive and muscular men are desirable.Generally the unattractive characters are fat or underweight and unintelligent and antisocial.The peer in this age generally have a negative effect on the child’s self-esteem.The parents also tend to unintentionally affect a child’s perception towards food by controlling the eating habits and making the child believe that fat is bad.

Obese kids are more dissatisfied with their bodies and have established anti fat biases because of the society.Children as young as 4,refuse to choose a chubby friend.This being particularly dangerous because young children may grow up feeling constantly excluded. The only way to protect young children is teaching them autonomy,to reject the thin ideal and learn that the images projected are not always real.

 

Adolescence (13-19):

Girls-

Adolescence is the period when hormonal and physical changes occur.Around 70% of the girls want to be thinner as they think it will make their life better.Larger girls are more dissatisfied. This is when most of the girls start fasting,dieting and using laxatives. Many girls even take the drastic step of getting surgeries.Such dissatisfaction harms them both physically and mentally. The most common disorders in such a condition are Anorexia and Bulimia.

Physical changes include acne,increased hair growth,breast growth,widening of hips and menstruation. Due to manifold physical changes,there are many emotions that a girl struggles with. Joy,fear and shame;all occur simultaneously.There is also a consistent need to ‘fit’ in and there is a fear of having no control over their body. Peer acceptance is very important too.The body image stabilizes over time and they feel comfortable in their own skin.

Boys-

Most of the boys prefer being ‘lean and muscular’,influenced by the media.Boys suffer from ‘reverse anorexia’.They might end up using protein supplements or exercising excessively. The pubertal development is generally positive for them as they move closer to the societal ideal of ‘perfection’. However,some boys might hit pubery later than their peer members and this may create a problem. Thinking that they’re ‘weaker’ than their friends makes them feel insufficient. Such dissatisfaction may lead to alcoholism,using steroids, and aggression.

In many surveys it has been found that most of the boys have a positive body image or are neutral. The stigma against fat and underweight people persists. Girls are more dissatisfied than boys.

 

Adulthood (19 onwards)

It is only recently that researchers started focusing on adulthood. The general pattern of growth shows that in adulthood,we gain weight,have saggy skin.

There is a social pressure to maintain youth,especially on women,the reason cosmetic industry survives. Wykes and Gunter claimed that young and white women were attractive and old women were asexual and depressed,according to the media.

While all old women are shown in a bad light,old men(fifties) are still ‘sexy’ and have young women swooning over them (eg: George Clooney). But even the men suffer ridicule at seventy,they are incompetent and pathetic.

 

 

Contrary to what media shows,in reality, women are more satisfied with their body image when they are sixty(and more).Research shows that women in the age group of sixteen to sixty three are mostly dissatisfied with their bodies.In eighties,women are more satisfied because old age makes them more realistic. As women grow older,they realize that looks don’t matter. It was also found that their role models are age appropriate. As women are older instead of believing that they don’t look good enough,they think that they ‘look good for their age’. Such realism is positive for their body and self-image.They also don’t have appearance anxiety and the only reason they want to lose weight is for health reasons.Surprisingly,women in old age are more satisfied than the men.

Men in fifties want to be slimmer and look younger.But this dissatisfaction is lost once they reach their sixties. After their sixtieth birthday,men are satisfied with their bodies and believe that they are good looking.

 

 

But,so what,right?

From the age of four we see our body ideals in front of us and want to conform.Changing the societal ideals is not very easy but it is never too late to take a first step.

We need media literacy to let our children know that whatever media shows is not always true. Advertisements generally Photoshop/airbrush the images and nobody is perfect.

We need to encourage body positivity movements and make people realize that everybody is beautiful and size doesn’t matter.

Media needs to break the stereotypes and take the first step towards a big movement that shuns societal ideals.

 

Remember,we should not want to be the same as others and we should not want others to be the same as us.We should glow and shine in all of our differences,flaunt them fabulously for all to see.We need not conform.

Don’t be ideal,be you.

Your relationship is not normal

AN ABUSIVE PARTNER DOESN’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THEIR ANGER; THEY HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR ANGER.
Being angry in a relationship is a basic right. In the conventional ideal relationship, ideals that are mostly imposed on women, your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil. The privilege of rage is reserved for the man mostly. Your outbursts are jammed down your throat by “declaring” that you’re crazy, insane. Then the anger is easily used against you to prove what an irrational person you are.
Abuse can make you feel stupid, insane and crazy.
You may develop physical or emotional reactions to swallowing your anger, such as depression, nightmares, emotional numbing, or sleeping problems, which your partner may use as an excuse to belittle you further or make you feel crazy.
There are no easy answers. “But your partner is so mean”, I know but they’ve been good to me. “They do it because you don’t react”, but I react and assert myself many times. “Leave, you deserve better”, but I can’t. Their friends get involved, relatives get involved and make a sorry spectacle out of them, and you feel bad. You feel as if it was your fault and you should be more understanding.
Being in and out of relationships and seeing the relationship dynamics around me has made me realise that what people see is just what they believe. It is very easy and convenient for the people to label the “louder” one as the abuser or to victimise the woman or the “weaker looking”. Most relationships are destroyed because of unsolicited opinions and most abusive relationships survive because the “public” makes you look crazy otherwise.
The emotional trauma changes you as a person. It has long lasting effects. Often, survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted. You need to say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the partner. I am innocent. Trauma is personal.
There’s a thin line between care and abuse, and there’s no official definition for it. Only the two people involved in the relationship have the right to define these things.
Emotional abuse is not limited to anger, it is also about the passive aggressive comments, checking phones, imposing trust issues and many things. What may be normal for you may aggravate your partner. So if your partner wants some privacy, trust them. Stop asking for passwords to “prove” their loyalty.
It is the little things that count.

(P.S. Without denying the presence of male emotional abuse, I personally believe that the number of women facing emotional abuse is higher, considering how easy it is to label a woman crazy and “feminazi” and insane. It is the females who have been taught to question their feelings and anger. If you have friends in a relationship, please stop asking the woman to “control her anger” because more often than not the “impressionable” mind of the partner starts believing that yes their partner is too dominant and starts victimising the self along with abusing the “angry one”)

Have I eaten too much?

‘You look anorexic!’ Is not really a compliment but used so often for somebody who looks very thin. You may have tried dieting or maybe you lose all control when you see gulab jaamuns, is this enough to believe that you have an eating disorder? Well, no.

Eating disorders are characterized by ‘severe disturbance in the eating pattern’. There are around ten million women and one million men who have eating disorders.We can see that the number of female patients is significantly higher than the male patients because of obvious societal norms of beauty that we tend to follow. But this article isn’t about sexism, it is about two of the eating disorders that are prevalent and rising at an alarming rate. Both Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa cause an ‘intense fear of becoming fat and/or overweight’

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM) is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States. This manual has been used to list out the symptoms.

  • Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa literally means ‘lack of appetite induced by nervousness’. People suffering from anorexia deny that they have lost significant amount of weight,they do know that they’re losing weight and are secretly proud of it but for others they conceal it. They will wear baggy clothes,drink a lot of water to show higher weight and if people ask them anything,they will simply deny everything. Generally affects people aged 15-19.

According to DSM IV, anorexia is diagnosed if these symptoms are found:

  • Refusal to maintain a body weight that is normal for the person’s age and height. (i.e. reduction of body weight to about 85% of what would normally be expected)
  • Distorted perception of body and size.
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat even when they are underweight.
  • Absence of at least three consecutive menstrual periods. (Diminished sexual appetite for men)

 

There are two types of anorexia,i.e. two ways in which the patients maintain low body weight.

  1. Restricting type anorexia:

The person limits their calorie intake and control their diets. If they are in a social setting,they might throw the food secretly to make people believe that they’re eating ‘normally’.

  1. Binging/Purging type anorexia:

The person eats as much as they want to, consume food without limits (binge) and then remove it from their bodies so the calories don’t affect them (purge). The method of removal could be self induced vomiting, usage of laxatives etc.

If not paid attention to, people suffering from anorexia may suffer from brain atrophy or commit suicide eventually due to lack of purpose. People suffering from anorexia may be unaware too,but mostly they are in denial.

Anorexia is one of the most lethal psychological disorders. The people generally look ‘unwell’, their nails and hair goes brittle, skin gets dry and pale and they also have low blood pressure.

Causes of death of anorexic people include heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), low potassium count, kidney failure and renal failure.

Most of us ignore anorexia and presume it is ‘just a phase’ but it isn’t. It not only results in a painful death but also a life where the person is constantly dissatisfied with themselves. We need to look around for the signs and help them.

 

  • Bulimia Nervosa:

Bulimia generally involves people binge eat. This means, they have hunger of large proportions and they eat on and on. This looks similar to purging type anorexia but it is different as patients may not be underweight. Both anorexia and bulimia cause the fear of ‘fat’. Bulimia is generally diagnosed in people aged 20-24.

According to DSM IV, bulimia is diagnosed if these symptoms are seen:

  • Eating in a fixed period of time,amounts of food that are far greater than anyone might eat under normal circumstances. Lack of control on the amount of food consumed. Unable to stop.
  • Recurrent and inappropriate efforts to compensate for the effects of binge eating. (Self induced vomiting,laxatives,excessive exercising)
  • Self evaluation excessively influenced by weight and shape.

People suffering from bulimia are generally average weight or even over weight at times. The beginning of bulimia is when person starts dieting,they restrict themselves and make sure they eat low calorie food. But this resolution soon erodes, they not only start eating the ‘forbidden foods’ (soft drinks, sweets, fried food etc) but also eat in huge amounts. They may consume as much as 5000 calories in a day. (Johnson et all. 1982). To compensate for this,they either;

  1. Purge (Purging type bulimia)

This happens in 80% of the cases.

OR

  1. Don’t purge (Non-purging type bulimia)

They fast or go on crash diets or exercise excessively.

 

People suffering from bulimia are aware of their condition. They know that there’s something ‘wrong’ with them. But they can’t stop themselves. There is a feeling of helplessness,shame and guilt. Bulimia is not as lethal as anorexia. Physical problems include Hypokalmia (less potassium), calluses on the hands,mouth ulcers,swollen salivary glands and puffy cheeks.

Since people who have bulimia nervosa are aware of their condition,it is easy to see if somebody around you is suffering. Even though bulimia doesn’t often result in death,we can’t deny that it is a serious condition. Their self deprecating attitude makes them feel worse about themselves and we all know how difficult it is to live like that.

 

  • Causes of eating disorders :
  1. Genetics:

Surprisingly enough, eating disorders can be inherited or be a part of your genetic makeup. According to several studies, relatives of people suffering from anorexia have 11.4% higher risk of developing an eating disorder. Relatives of people suffering from bulimia have 3.7% higher risk.

  1. Serotonin levels:

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects our behavior and controls obsessionality, mood patterns and impulsivity. Eating disorders may be caused if serotonin levels are disrupted.

  1. Peers and media influence:

The magazines since 1960s have promoted thinness as the beauty ideal this has affected the general perception of people towards the society as well as themselves. To prove this effect, Becker conducted a study in Fiji. In Fiji, fat was equal to good. After they got the facility of televisions,they started watching shows like 90210, Beverly Hills and ‘realized’ that the western concept of beauty was pressurizing thinness. So they started dieting and exercising. All of us have been in this position. So we cannot deny that yes,this is true.

  1. Family:

‘Dysfunctional families’ are the cause for 1/3 Anorexic patients. According to Strober (1997) rigid,overprotective parents or parents who believe in the thin ideal are the reason for eating disorders,mainly anorexia. In 1997, Fairburn concluded that bulimia was generally the result of ‘appearance anxiety’.

 

After looking at all the causes, the only one we can control is the media peer influence. There has been a recent increase in campaigns that promote ‘self love’ and propagate the idea that being yourself is beautiful not just being thin. There are also ads that show how every body and everybody is beautiful.

But can we just blame the society? A thin loving society is not the only reason for disorders. Had that been the case,all of us should have some eating disorder. It is people who internalize the thin ideal and believe that thin is attractive who suffer. Dieting,body dissatisfaction and perfectionism are the major propagators of eating disorders.

So, love yourself. Be healthy; enjoy your life as it is. You don’t have to be thin, or fat or voluptuous. You don’t need to fit in the society. While we blame the society, we need to realize that we are the society, let’s not judge so quickly. Be happy and let others be happy.

 

 

 

 

 

Obsessive and Compulsive

I was watching ‘Monk’ with my sister. This TV show is about a detective who has OCD and brilliant observation skills that make him one of the best detectives in town. While watching the show there was a particular scene where they showed how Adrian Monk always liked his things in an order and hated mess and was basically very organised. He couldn’t stand a sofa being slightly out-of-place and couldn’t concentrate on anything else. My sister,who is just ten thought that this is what she does to. “I think I have OCD too!” And as she said this,as if to prove her point,she set the pillows in an order. I obviously decided to ignore her because she is just ten and thinks OCD will make her smart,just like Monk. But it got me thinking. There are so many of us who think a simple obsession or maybe some random compulsive act qualifies us as an OCD patient. Sadly, we have started using a real problem which needs attention to something as simple as low grade fever.

Obsessive compulsive disorder or, OCD can be defined as an “occurrence of unwanted and intrusive obsessive thoughts or distressing images; these are usually accompanied by compulsive behaviors performed to neutralize the obsessive thoughts or images or to prevent some dreaded event or situation”. Pretty confusing,yes. Let us try to understand it better.

According to the DSM, OCD can be diagnosed if:

  1. Either obsession or compulsion
  • Obsessions (All four)
  1. i) Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses or images that are experienced at some time as intrusive and cause marked anxiety.
  2. ii) Thoughts,impulses or images that are not simply excessive worries about real life problems.

iii) Person attempts to ignore or suppress or neutralise them with some other thought or action.

  1. iv) Person reorganises they are a product of his or her mind.

 

  • Compulsions (Both)
  1. i) Repetitive behaviours (Hand washing,ordering,checking) or mental acts (praying,counting etc.) the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession and according to rigid rules.
  2. ii) Behaviours or mental acts aimed at preventing or reducing distress or situation.

 

  1. At least at some point,person recognises the obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable.
  2. Obsessions or compulsions cause marked distress, are time-consuming (more than 1 hour) or interfere significantly with normal functioning.

 

All of us have minor obsessive thoughts,like doubts about the door lock or maybe we left the stove on. These thoughts occur and we generally forget about them and move on. But in OCD, such thoughts are excessive and persistent (often distressing). Other types of obsessions include,

  • Fear of contamination
  • Fear of harming self or others.
  • Pathological doubt
  • Need for symmetry
  • Sexual obsession etc.

Compulsion refers to a need to perform acts repeatedly that often seem pointless and absurd even to them. It can be

  • Cleaning
  • Checking
  • Arranging
  • Counting etc.

Eg: Monk has a habit of touching every even lamppost. He cannot not touch a lamppost that is on the even-numbered position. (In a row,he would touch the second,fourth and so on).

 

Just like there are many things that are unique to an individual, OCD also has unique differences depending upon the individual. However, there are certain characteristics that are consistent. They are:

1) Anxiety is the affective symptom.

2) Compulsions reduce the anxiety temporarily.

3) Nearly all people afflicted with OCD fear that something will happen to them or others because of them. They tend to judge risk unrealistically (Important feature of OCD),this is why it is also called the ‘what if’ disease sometimes.

 

Yes,OCD is a lot more than ‘I am neat and organised’ or ‘I wash hands a lot’. It is an anxiety disorder which more prevalent in divorced,separated and unemployed people (Monk is a widower). Such a pattern is seen because of the sudden change in schedule and interpersonal and occupational functioning. There is also an increased amount of difficulties that one has to face. But OCD is not uncommon in late adolescence or early adulthood, the symptoms are similar. It is also seen that OCD is more common in males.

It is a chronic anxiety disorder but the severity of the symptoms waxes and wanes. It co-occurs with some other anxiety disorders like depression (80% of clients have significant depressive symptoms). Depression is a response to OCD. Other anxiety disorders that are seen are: social phobia, panic disorders, Post Traumatic stress disorder.

 

 

While OCD may be seen as a very crippling disorder, it is not untreatable.

Many people think medicines are effective treatment. They affect the neurotransmitter serotonin. Medicines like Prozac and Clomipramine appear to reduce the intensity of the symptoms. The effect varies but sadly 30-50% people show no significant improvement. A major disadvantage of medicinal treatment for any anxiety disorder, including OCD, is that when the medication is discontinued, there is a high chance of relapse. Thus, this medication may have to continue indefinitely.

There is also behavioural treatment that combines exposure and response prevention,which is one of the most effective treatments for OCD. The clients are repeatedly exposed to the stimuli that provokes their obsession (for someone with compulsive washing, making them touch dirty shoes) and then preventing them from engaging in their compulsive rituals, which they ordinarily would engage in to reduce the anxiety provoked by their obsessions. Prevention of compulsion is necessary because then they will realise that their anxiety will dissipate slowly if they give it time. The results are considered to be superior than medications.

One recent study shows that a combined treatment (which includes the above mentioned methods) is most effective for children and adolescents suffering from OCD.

 

It is clear that OCD is a lot more than wanting to organise everything but it is not as simple as some random thing that will treat itself. As outsiders,we cannot judge or imagine the dilemma and anxiety that people suffer when they have OCD. It is high time that we help them by letting them know that it is alright. Let’s be more compassionate and, definitely stop using OCD as an everyday phrase.

 

Body Image and Self Esteem

The contempary society gives a lot of importance to appearances. Looks,outward appearance,clothes,body size and all the peripheral things hold so much of importance in this day and age that it affects each one of us,knowingly or unknowingly. Since birth we see beauty ideals on TV and in our toys and thus start considering it as ‘normal’. For example,take Barbies. Many young girls believe that every normal girl looks like the doll,that one needs to have that figure and perfect skin. However,this development is natural and these perceptions are formed unknowingly.
How many of us have complained about our size? Looked at the mirror and seen a fat ugly person stare right back at us? At least I have. I have always been a fat kid. It was cute till I was 13 and later made me realize that people either felt sorry for me or had a problem with my size. I was fat but not unhealthy. Somehow my weight was fine and so was my height. I could run and do almost everything,except impressing people. The guys didn’t have a crush on me and the girls thought I was ugly,I was the last one to be selected for the sports teams. So finally I gave up. I gave up and started binge eating. I decided that I was too abnormal to function and I deserved this. I even started starving myself and exercising too much until my mother saw the change. She asked me all about it and made me realize that size really doesn’t matter. Now I’m eighteen and still not skinny,a size 8, and happy. I’m confident about myself and I know I’m healthy and beautiful,and that is all that matters.
Recently I was reading about ‘ugliest woman on earth’. One of them is anorexic. You know why? Because when she was 12,somebody called her ‘too fat to exist’,and since then she became bulimic. One small comment spoiled this woman’s entire life. She can never be okay,she can never truly live. I find it sad to see young girls worrying about their weight and young men wanting to have six pack abs. Wasn’t childhood the period of innocence when all we cared about was what to play and eat?
Advertising and media too play a major role in the setting up of this mindset. Ads have only airbrushed photo shopped size 0 models,men with perfect abs and jawlines and when we look at them and compare,we realize we look different. And looking like that is what is important.
So what is body image? ‘Body image is the picture we have of our bodies at rest or in motion at any moment. It is from internal sensations,postural changes,contact with outside objects and people,and our emotional experiences and fantasies’ (Freedman 1998, Salkin 1973). According to Hutchinson (1985), body image includes feelings,attitudes, and beliefs about our bodies. Basically,body image is what we think of ourselves and what image of self we have in our minds. The way we look at ourselves.
We start to develop a sense of self and self identity in early childhood. These are the first moments of developing self image. However,the initially formed body image is subject to further modification.
Our body satisfaction relates strongly to our self esteem. The society has formed some unwritten norms about the way a person should look,what is ‘attractive’ and what is ‘ugly’.
Symmetrical features,silky voluminous hair,long neck,busty and voluptuous or totally skinny girls are what media projects to be beautiful. All the airbrushed models have been known to give complex to young and old women alike. One in four adolescent girls have admitted that they’re on a diet. Even young men,tall dusky handsome and strong groomed men is what the media shows and what every male wants to look like. However,these pressures are mostly linked to depression in case of women because of the constant ‘need to look ‘sexy’. While this image of perfection is portrayed by the media,we as the citizens of the society feel the need to conform to it and every time we see ourselves in the mirror,all we see is our imperfections staring back at us. We think we are too fat,too dark,too short or anything that is not what we see on the billboards. This decreases our confidence.
We keep buying products to be fairer,to be thinner,to be taller and look like what the society wants us to look like. We buy diet food,we starve ourselves and be dissatisfied forever. There is no perfect look. This is a vicious cycle. Once we enter the circle of self loathing,we can never love ourselves enough. We never will. And one day we will die. We will die thinking we were not perfect.
We are unable to love ourselves because we think nobody can love us. This need to look just like what society thinks is likeable. This mentality needs to change.
The link between body image and self esteem is simple,we look at ourselves and are always critical. We never look like the models because the models themselves don’t look like that. We have set unattainable standards of beauty as ideal and when we fail to achieve that,a feeling of worthlessness starts to set in.
It is this direct relation that so many suicides and cases of anorexia and bulimia come up. As long as we are physically fit,it is what’s on the inside that matters.
So let’s all join hands and together as a community learn to accept diversity in true form. Let’s stop body shaming others and realize their internal struggles. Let’s live and let live.

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