A number of people suffer from eating disorders and body image issues. Though there is no single factor that causes the issue, research shows that media, mainly social media in today’s age, does contribute and add exposure and pressure on body dissatisfaction. Bengaluru youth are also following some alarming trends that inevitably cause more damage to them than they realise, only in order to “look right”. Body shaming is common on social media, so much so that columnist Shobhaa De recently took to social media to body shame the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr are global communities where people can share images and photographs and support each others self destructive behaviours with the help of shared tips. “It takes only a few minutes during your commute to work to have your insecurities validated. I was tremendously affected by it and would be wrong to say I’m over it now. When I check my Instagram feed, there are so many pictures that pop up on the popular page and can be found under hashtags like #thinspiration and #thighgap, that give people like me huge complexes about our bodies,” says Neeta Ashpal a student.
Hollywood actress Kate Winslet has also spoken about the cause and mentioned that all forms of social media are banned in the house because it leads to eating disorders. “It has a huge impact on a young women’s self esteem because all they do is design themselves for people to like them,” the actress quoted.
“The photos on these sites are often accompanied by inspirational messages like ‘pretty girls don’t eat’ and ‘skip dinner, be thinner’. In college, I was a part of online forums where people compared weights and helped each other avoid eating. We would discuss how we would eat the food we were served, so people wouldn’t suspect, but then throw it up later. I remember not knowing how to throw up the food I ate, so a number of people came forward and helped me learn it on the forum. I used to consume only around 200 calories in a day, at one point,” says Aditi Jaiswal, a former student.
Eating disorders which include Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are caused by genetic, psychological and sociological factors. These disorders thrive because of the messages we are exposed to by our peers. “Youngsters in the city wrongly assume that they need to starve to lose weight. What they don’t understand is that weight loss isn’t about not eating, it’s about eating right.
People of the age group of 20-35 and sometimes even younger, are suffering from a number of problems like thyroid, diabetes and high blood pressure because their bodies aren’t getting enough nutrients. They think not eating is the solution, but to remain healthy, one needs to consume a minimum of 1000 calories a day, irrespective of whether they are trying to control their weight or not. They need to focus more on a balanced diet by eating little from every food group,” says Vasundhara Agarwal, a nutritional consultant and clinical dietician.