Chennai: Chubby Neena T. was always second best when compared with her sister Nisha, who was ‘thin’ and ‘beautiful’. She hated that everyone preferred Nisha and constantly poked fun at her for not being as pretty. This affected Neena at a very young age, leading to her developing Anorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder, characterised by self-starvation and an inability to maintain an adequate body weight.
“Eating disorders often go hand in hand with one or more mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, due to the associated negative feelings and low self-esteem, which are present with both conditions,” said counsellor P. Nilam, who had met Neena. “She may have not gone to such an extent if she hadn’t been put down by her parents, that too, at such a young age,” she added.
With actresses and other female role models working hard to maintain their figures, a large number of people relate ‘skinny’ with ‘fashionable’. “Neena had gone into depression as she felt that she wasn’t perfect. She also developed an inferiority complex, prompting her to question her abilities.
“People with depression find it hard to function every day and may be reluctant to participate in activities they once enjoyed,” Nilam said. Neena constantly wanted to be accepted by her parents as equal to her sister, she said.
“One in every 10 women tends to question her appearance and this mainly arises from the way she is treated as a child,” said counselor Shanta Mohan.
“A woman always hopes that her father would look at her as a princess. When that does not happen, she feels the need to change her appearance,” she added.
Most people can find something they don’t like about their body and many take steps to eat healthy or start an exercise plan to improve their appearance.
Those with eating disorders develop habits that can cause a great deal of harm. Even though they are often underweight, they have an intense fear of becoming fat, she said.