Body image isn’t just an occasional consideration to some women, it’s all they can think about. For these people sporting a model-esque figure isn’t just important, it’s worth dying for. Literally.
There’s a considerable amount of pressure in our society to have a body that fits into the box of ‘ideal beauty’. It might not be pressure that is obvious on the surface, but the bodies that we see in the media, in film, television and magazines all showcase what society thinks is true beauty. The problem is that only a tiny portion of our population will ever actually achieve that look without photoshop and other enhancements.
Yet that doesn’t stop people trying. While some are happy to just be healthy and fit, others can focus only on that ideal look, not even seeing when they’ve cross the line into unhealthiness. The fact is those people who can’t control their obsession to be thin are really putting their lives on the line.
The question you need to ask, either yourself or someone that you’re worried about is this: Are you ‘dying’ to be thin?
So, Are You ‘Dying’ To Be Thin?
How can a person tell when they’ve taken their desire to lose weight too far? It can be hard to pinpoint just one sign, and for the person involved it’s often impossible for themselves to see it. When you have a distorted sense of your own body, you might feel fat even when you’re not. We can provide a few things to look for, but it often helps to get the opinion of a medical professional as well.
1. You’re Constantly Dieting
A constant focus on dieting is the first thing that might indicate you don’t have a grasp on a healthy lifestyle. This is particularly true if your dieting involves any kind of starvation, even if you call it fasting. You might notice that you look a little paler than you used to, or that are arms are thinner. A little part of you might be happy about that, but strength and health are what you should be focused on instead of an obsession with being thin. If you’re already constantly dieting, and you still feel far from satisfied, it might be time to think about where your actions are taking you.
2. You’ve Thrown Up On Purpose After A Meal
It can be pretty easy to rationalise throwing up after a meal when you have a distorted body image. You might think that you ate to much, or you shouldn’t have eaten something, or that you never wanted to eat in the first place, and wouldn’t have if there weren’t other people there. But hiding your eating habits, and making yourself sick, are not the actions of a healthy person. This goes beyond simply trying to cut a thin figure, it’s a serious health issue and one that has long-term impacts you probably aren’t even aware of.
3. You Don’t Have Energy For Previous Activities
When you don’t eat right, you diet and fast constantly, or you make yourself sick, your body isn’t getting the energy that it needs. This means that you won’t have the energy that you used to, and you might find it impossible to motivate yourself to get out of the house or even out of bed. These aren’t healthy behaviours, and a sedentary lifestyle paired with unhealthy eating can lead to mood disorders and other issues. You have to reframe how you think about your life. Life isn’t just about being thin, it’s about enjoying yourself, being healthy, and being happy. Can you really say that about yourself now?
4. You Categorise Food As Bad And Good
A strong negative perception about food could also be the sign that you need to rethink your overbearing desire to get thinner. If you feel that you hate food, or feel sick when you see it, it could be a sign that you have a problem. The same can be said of categorising food in your mind as good or bad. Some girls even go as far as thinking of food as the obstacle they have to overcome in order to get the bodies they want. If in your mind food is already an enemy, and you try everything in your power to avoid it, then you’ve already taken it too far.
Look Out For Others
If you’re reading this article and are thinking that it doesn’t sounds like you, but it sounds like a friend or even a child, it’s time to take action. People can suffer with eating disorders and low-self esteem at any point in their lives, but young people are especially at risk as they acutely feel the pressures of their peers and society to look a certain way. If your daughter or son seems to have lost all interest in food, avoids eating, or disappears to the bathroom after meals, it’s time that you talked to them about eating disorders, and how damaging it can be to have an unhealthy obsession with being thin.
Being obsessed with being thin is an eating disorder, and although you might try to convince yourself that it isn’t, there’s no other way around it. Eating disorders are not the same as other illnesses, they can’t be simply cured with medication and then left in the past. They’re often a lifelong fight, where you need to stay focused on your own health, and healthy behaviours, as well as a positive body image. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but with such a high risk of long-term damage from a thin obsession, it’s definitely worth it.
So do yourself, or the person suffering at the hands of an eating disorder, a favour. Sit down and have an honest conversation with them about the problems they’re having, or take yourself to a doctor or counsellor and talk through some of the problems you’re having. In most places these services are offered for free. If you aren’t ready to speak to someone in person, or if the person you’re worried about isn’t ready to talk to you, get in touch with a support group like the Butterfly Foundation, on their helpline 1800 ED HOPE / 1800 33 4673. They can help you, but you also need to help yourself.