The obsession and the determination of not wanting to be obese is a scary experience faced by many individuals, which can result in grave problems. Body image concerns, or one’s perception of appearance, commonly begin in middle childhood or earlier and peak throughout puberty. It could lead to obsessive weight-loss efforts. This tendency is more prevalent in girls than boys, and many girls, especially in pubertal development, become unhappy with their appearance. This stems from society glorifying ‘perfect bodies’ and perpetuating these images through mainstream media as ‘normal’. The unrealistically thin image gloriously portrayed by models in media tend to make girls believe that thinness is important to have a ‘perfect’ body. These body image issues can also result from constant negative criticism of their body appearances. In addition, bullying, teasing, or discrimination based on body appearances can also cause body image issues and, ultimately, eating disorders. In some cases, sexual abuse, anxiety, and low self-esteem can also cause body image issues where the person is unsatisfied with their body. As a result, individuals can suffer from body image issues where they are unhappy with their appearance. For example, more than half of the girls in 16 nations were dieting or thought they should be by age 15. These body image issues can lead to individuals going to extreme methods of weight loss techniques that can end up being very harmful. They can develop eating problems and even reach the point of self-starvation, which can be very destructive, physically and emotionally. Multiple eating disorders, such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, result from negative body image. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are eating disorders that involve abnormal food patterns.
Anorexia Nervosa, also known as self-starvation, is a potentially life-threatening condition in which anorexics have a distorted body image but believe they are overweight while continually dieting and eating next to nothing. As a result, they may be withdrawn or depressed and engage in a pattern of perfectionism. People with anorexia frequently severely restrict their food intake to avoid weight gain or maintain weight loss. For example, they may limit their calorie intake by vomiting after meals or abusing laxatives, diet aids, diuretics, and enemas. They might also try to shed weight by over-exercising.The lack of proper diet can end up causing dangerous and even life-threatening symptoms to the individual, such as severe loss of muscle mass, fatigue, exhaustion, dizziness, low blood pressure and many more. In addition, the disorder can also cause irregularity or cessation of menstruation and even infertility.
Bulimia Nervosa is a condition in which a person regularly has large eating binges in a short time, usually two hours or less. They then attempt to undo the high caloric intake through self-induced vomiting or purging, strict dieting or fasting, excessively vigorous exercise, or the use of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics to purge the body. These episodes occur at least twice a week for at least three months. Bulimics are obsessed with their weight and appearance. They experience feelings of shame, self-disgust, and sadness due to their eating habits. Bulimics constantly fear gaining weight and need to pursue weight loss techniques, sometimes very extreme ones, which can be dangerous to the person. These individuals have a certain preoccupation with body weight and body shape.
Both these conditions are treatable, and patients can make a full recovery, although most times, the recovery rate can be very slow. Anorexia and Bulimia can be treated with behaviour therapy followed by individual, group or family psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. With the help and support of loved ones, anorexia and bulimia patients can find the appropriate treatment options to return to normal eating patterns and cope with body image issues.