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Mental Health


Someone who is bullied or body shamed, constantly abandoned and teased for being themselves, for being healthier than skinny people, it would make them feel that they are lacking something, that they are not enough, they are not beautiful, but who are we to decide what is beautiful and what is not? These people who are suffering due to constant peer pressure regarding their body weight or due to other depositions that make them feel less beautiful, make them feel unwanted with further pushes them to indulge in a severe form of self-starvation that leads to malnutrition and often becomes fatal.


For years, the society set standards of beauty have shifted planes. Men and women all around the world struggle to meet these standards, but some are lost amidst this. Studies in social psychology have proved that we tend to look for partners who match our level of attractiveness. In a speed-dating study, by Luo & Zhang, proved that for men and women, the proclivity to date a partner they met rested strongly on the physical attractiveness. Some psychologists propose that we are biologically predisposed to be drawn to attractive people, hence the pressure to look good and thin is not lost on anyone. Everyone feels the need to look good, to be attractive, to
be called beautiful, but to someone, it becomes far more important than rest. Due to this scuffle, mental health takes a toll. Healthy looking people or people suffering from medical conditions such as thyroid feel out of place.


According to the DSM-5, ‘Anorexia Nervosa’ has a prevalence rate of 0.4% with a 10:1 ratio of men and women respectively. Meaning women suffer greatly with this disorder and this truly does not come as a shock because women have always been objectified and are made to feel shame if they do not have a lean or a curvy figure. It is more common in cultures and setting where thinness is more valued. There is also an increased risk among first-degree biological relatives of individuals who have this disorder. Individuals who develop this disorder can often be a result of a defense mechanism for dealing with complicated emotions that they feel they must
avoid and can occur in even those who are surrounded by a happy family.

People suffering from anorexia are known as anorexics, which is a severe disorder in which individuals put exceptional restrictions imposed on self by excessive exercise and self-starvation. Anorexia is derived from the Greek words, ‘an’ meaning ‘without’ and ‘orexis’ meaning ‘appetite’. They control their energy intake to such a length that if crossed, it would result in fatality. Although their weight is dangerously minimal, they feel a constant fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. This fear is increased to such an extent that they regularly measure their body parts with measuring tapes or check their image in the mirror to see if they are maintaining their current body weight. Their self-esteem completely depends on the
distorted perception that they have of their body. Any further weight loss becomes an achievement in contrary to weight gain which is discerned as a loss of self-control and humiliation.


Feeling anxious about weight gain is a common phenomenon that each person feels once in a while but being anxious is a different thing from stopping all mediums of energy ingestion. We all look into our mirrors and ask ourselves “Am I becoming fat? Should I diet?” But anorexics go to perilous lengths to achieve weight loss. They diet and fast with such diligence that they soon have almost no energy left in their body, due to which the fat percentage of their body becomes so low that the cells
that store fat have nothing left and they begin to consume neighbouring cells due to which they become very weak and fragile, often resulting in anemia, which is the deficiency of red blood cells. Their bones become brittle and seriously visible, known as emaciation, which greatly elevates the risk of a fracture. Some individuals grow lanugo which is explained as a fine, soft hair that covers the body of the fetus. All of these are ways for the body to protect itself from malnutrition. In prepubertal females, menarche may be delayed and in adult females amenorrhea, that is
abnormal absence os periods may occur. Regrettably, anorexics have no remorse whatsoever for their body, they lack the seriousness of their medical condition.

Factually, it is not true that anorexics feel no hunger; they are as human as the rest of the world but regardless of their hunger, they control themselves and force themselves to go on without eating, and even if they do consume food, calories are always in their mind. They don’t eat more than the set calories for themselves and even further reduce those gained calories by engaging in tiring work out. This way they don’t gain any weight. The thing that they don’t realize and although some of them do, is that they continue to walk down this perilous path. This often affects their ability to carry on activities in daily lives as they persistently feel conscious and tired due to a lack of energy but they can’t stop themselves. We must understand that anorexia is not the individual’s fault, it occurs usually due to circumstances and the influences of their social structure and environment. The only thought on their mind is to be thin which makes it very difficult for them to break free from this pattern of self-harm.

Self-perception is the most important factor. Anorexics feel that they need to be thin to fit in the society that makes them feel unwanted. In such situations family and friend support, love and acceptance is something they crave most. They must be reminded constantly that they are surrounded and accepted no matter how they look. They need help and relentless motivation to see a doctor who could pull them out of their misery and make them see themselves for their inner beauty and not by the standards that unknown people set. They need to be shown how to love themselves. It is the first step to healing.


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