‘He will take all the space’, ‘she has put on a lot of weight’, you might have used these phrases when you came across a fat person but you weren’t aware of a very important fact. He is already starving himself and she hasn’t eaten her favourite cake in years.
We call someone fat without even thinking about how it will become their worst fear and they might not be able to gather the courage to socialize again. How more she will dislike her own body which she already hates.
“Society is so obsessed with certainty that they might prefer death over the failure of an uncertain life. I really believe this,” said Nandita Rajamani. To receive some kind of acceptance from the society, Nandita sabotaged herself by starving to a point where her parents had to force her to see a doctor leading to her being diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder, at the age of 16.
The peer pressure of having a perfect body is one of the major causes of mental eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, or binge eating, where an individual is constantly worried about getting over-weight, which can even lead to depression.
Fat isn’t bad. Or is it?
The slogan ‘fat is bad’ is promoted by the Bollywood industry. Remember, how Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’s Rohan was always bullied by Pooja and her friends, and there’s even a scene where his grandmother stops him from eating laddu. In case you missed, Rohan’s problem of being bullied only ended after he lost his fat. He even ended up with the same Pooja who used to bully him, as he now, as per the standards of society, is handsome.
“I think the general failure at being a ‘good girl’ drove me to the only thing that I think I could control – my body weight,” said Nandita, explaining that an eating disorder is not about food but control. This might be the story of Nandita, but if you look around yourself, you can find many more protagonists for the same story.
How can it be possible when people around me are perfectly fine?
You might ask this question, but it doesn’t have a simple or even a single answer. An individual might be completely fit and still be struggling to achieve a body that he thinks the society seems perfect. That chubby woman in your building might have lost a few kilograms but still, when she looks into the mirror she could see nothing but a fat lady.
Then there’s the misconception that an eating disorder is an attention-seeking stunt when in reality a person suffering from an eating disorder is desperate to keep you, the society, the taunts out of their minds, and failing miserably.
Most of us, Indians, deny that an Indian can suffer from an eating disorder as it is a ‘Western problem’, which is why there isn’t a single mention of the term ‘eating disorder’ till the 1960s.
If we take a look at the statistics then the rate of Anorexia Nervosa- eating disorder with the highest mortality rate, is 10 per 1000000 males and 37.5 per 1000000 females in India as per 2019, as per the reports. So one can only imagine how many people are suffering from an eating disorder and have not yet found the courage to be vocal about it. This leads them to live a life where they have to fight a disorder as well as face the struggle of keeping it a secret, due to the fear of social judgment.
It is vital to bring eating disorders, and other mental health conditions, as well, to the public eye to help give courage to those facing similar situations to seek help which they need.
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