Eating disorder is something the South Asian Community hardly ever speak about . With deep rooted ancestral issues mixed with the new wave of social media body image visuals we have a group of females that need a lot of help mentally and physically.
My own journey struggling with an eating disorder lead to years of self abuse and hate. Trying to uphold traditional values and fit into the western society I found myself at times with an identity crisis. To abide by customary rules and regulations as well as trying to find my way to break away from the linear narrative and what is expected from me was something that took me a long time to make peace with.
Eating disorders is not something South Asian families tackle let alone speak about , in fact historically it is only viewed as a western Caucasian female issue. In context the female body image and how it is interpreted in different countries and cultures varies this can have a conflict on Asian females (or females from a different ethnicity /race).
A curvy woman in an African Tribe maybe viewed as a strong women or a leader of the pack, that very same curvy woman in American may be viewed as an overweight person. In India being skinny is associated with being poor and in the western world we can view it as a middle class healthy way of living. Having said that, Bollywood actresses in films have now caught up with this wave of tight abs and toned physiques, and in my opinion adopted the western beauty standards.
As humans we all like to identify ourselves with people we feel familiar with and actually can RELATE to, so yes Role models and representation matters more than we can ever imagine in this day and era.
Social media has created this unhealthy relationship making us feel like we are never enough. It is either the size 0, slim fit, thick thighs tight abs trend. Body images are constantly changing like fashion and even someone who knows better can fall into this trap of the need to fit causing mental health issues that cannot be explained.
Eating disorders are no joke, and when we narrow it down to females from a South Asian background it can be the hardest thing one can go through. We have this unsaid standard of beauty in the community where females are expected to be slim and petite. Anything else outside of this we can guarantee our parents or relatives to make a back handed comment such as “you are getting slightly healthy” Most of us already know this is a polite way of saying “you are getting fat”.
I had always been a fat greedy child, it was survival of the fittest in my house over the kit kat bars. but I also recall being very sporty and we always played outside. Puberty was unkind and so unfair to me. I blossomed horizontally and vertically, i stood out like a sore thumb.
I was desperate to drop weight, I was in college when I knew how to stick my fingers down my throat, magically I shed so much weight. I had no idea that this was a disorder let alone a thing.
Eating Disorders controlled my life.
It robbed me of my self -confidence, self- esteem, self- worth and everything in between of my sanity.
I was so misunderstood and the only emotion I knew was rage and anger. Deep down I was looking to be just loved and to be told I was beautiful enough, but I never heard that so it made me feel like I never was pretty or good enough. I was fighting this inner war that was consuming my everyday thoughts. My demons were stronger than me as I fought through each day with the bite of an apple to last me till bed time.
I was trying to prove something to myself but I had no idea what it was. Even when I reached my perfect weight on the scales I was never happy. I constantly felt ugly and fat in front of the mirror. Even at my lowest body weight I felt I had to train harder. This is what we call Body Dis morphia