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Society pushes on women the pressure to be thin and attractive in a certain way. I asked some of my peers what they think of this complicated relationship between food, body image and the pressure they face to maintain it.
Food is essential for human survival, but as women, we have had a more complicated relationship with something that is basic to survival. These complications exist, as you might have guessed rightly, due to the idealisation of a certain body type that all women should have according to the common social expectations. This idea of making moulds from women is being tackled by a lot of us now, but this conditioning to be thin and slender and hence, beautiful still exists in the back our minds.
So naturally, the first step to being thin is to not eat as most of us assume wrongly. And these tendencies, when they achieve an extreme are now termed as Eating Disorders. Anorexia is the most common of them, and there was even a certain period where it was good to ‘look anorexic’ because of the lack of complete awareness among young girls who thought it was just another word for ‘thin’.
In light of this, I asked some young women I know, to share their opinions regarding the nexus between women, food, body image and anorexia. Do they feel compelled to maintain a certain shape? Is it okay to continue the status quo? Why is all this still an issue we face? Let’s see what they have to say!
“We live in an age of high exposure to social media. With several bloggers and Instagram models flooding our newsfeed, every person has a certain pressure to look in a certain manner. We all want to ape the glossy magazine models who have set unreasonable standards. We want to look thin and for that we could go to any extent. But everything looks greener on the other side. In our craze to look perfect, we compromise on so many important things.
We’re so obsessed with what we see on the Internet that we even look over the anorexic models walking down the runway. We want to be as cool as them without even thinking about the consequences of it. On top of it comes the comments, the pressure to maintain a social image, the taunts, the body shaming on various levels.
So in my opinion, it’s for our own benefit to maintain a healthy lifestyle but we should know where to draw the line. We should understand what struggles everyone is going through and instead of mocking them, we should support them and learn how to embrace our own bodies.” – Sazmeen Reyaz
“Well, I think that of course it is a construct. Like it is not necessary for me to adhere to that certain image of ideal body. So when people tell me that I am too skinny and they make cruel jokes on it, I just ignore it. Maximum days when I go out, I just want to wear something comfortable say jeans and T-shirt. I rarely dress up and that too for myself. I guess the discipline I study also has much to do with it as earlier I would care about my looks and body image especially my crooked set of teeth but now I know the facade and vices of society so I’ve stopped caring.” – Shriyanshi Shukla
“Anorexia is not someone’s fault but I think people should try to get over it as soon as they can with proper consultation. I believe in maintaining health with proper exercise and a good diet, not throwing out everything you eat. Chick flicks and shows, like Gossip Girl showing the main character as anorexic is perhaps influencing young girls to actually become like that. I would like a thin and slender body but I am very interested in food.” – Abhilasha Roy
“There is always a pressure. Despite of the campaigning and the rallying, we still experience stereotypes inside our small living circle in some or the other way. There are women who are more free spirited than they actually seem, but there are so many restrictions on them by their family or the community, you can’t really be who you really are unless if you are extremely lucky with supporting people around you.
I think girls are pulled into the circle of ”Oooh let’s all be hot by loosing a lot of weight” and they are emotionally disturbed by the fact that they might be a slight bit more than the ”accepted” or the ”correct” size or weight. Anorexia is not a disease, I believe that it’s a mental state of instability when it comes to your body.
Beauty is everything to most people. ”A slim hot body” being the key factor. For example, Whenever parents are looking for a bride for his son, Most of them look for a slim bride. Most of the actors are selected through auditions but the shape of the body(hot slim body like Emma Stone, [i love her by the way]etc ) is also considered. Friends, relatives, family, Colleagues et cetera in some or the other way always make sure to point out how ‘fat’ a person is. This kind of attitude is also portrayed in advertisements like, ‘Lipton green tea’, etc.” – Sophiya Shahul
“I’d say that there is a considerable amount of pressure on women regarding this. We’ve grown up seeing ads and movies and shows on billboards etc. And it’s only very late that we become aware of photoshop. And photoshop is both a tool to further this ideology and a consequence of it. And the sad part is that the focus isn’t on a healthy body image, taking care of it, but being thin. It is not necessary that a thin person is healthy.
Being fat is to a certain extent subjective as well, so it becomes a matter of perception. Since teens are vulnerable and building themselves, they tend to fall prey to anorexia or bulimia and eating disorders. They seek validation, which they see being recieved by thin girls in various forms of media. It is a statement often thrown around, which necessitates being thin to be beautiful. If you’re thin, you’ll effortlessly look good.
With the entire social media positivity and help groups, people have slowly started accepting their body types. But i believe this should not be used as an excuse to not take care of one’s body, which is quite important.” – Shreshtha Bhakuni
These were some young women who talk about how deeply entrenched our environment is with these kinds of notions. It is also great to see that more women are aware of how this mechanism works, and are actively trying to shun it. There is hope, after all!
Let us know what you think too!
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New Delhi, India
I like to read, write, and talk. A feminist through and through,
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