Unfortunately, at a young age –during the tender teenage years- the core community, the family, ceases to be the center of attention for a teenage girl and her friends’ opinions matter more than the family’s. This means that a girl minds what her peers think more than what anybody else does. This could drive her to dangerous lands that may put your health at risk. Far-fetched? Not really.
One of the things that girls in adolescence are after is the thin ideal body image that is continually projected through all media platforms possible. Slim girls are everywhere: in girls’ magazines, shown on TV, are awarded through various reality shows, receiving great comments and feedback when they upload a picture of theirs in their Facebook profile, etc. wanting to look as great as they do is unavoidable. The same things had happened to me. I wanted to look good- and who does not? But, the problem is that I did not mind looking –and feeling-healthy. I was so obsessed about becoming thin that I did not take into consideration other parameters.
Maybe my strong urge to lose weight and become thin and thinner lies in the fact that I have always been rather plump. As far as I can remember myself, my mother would stuff my mouth with all sorts of food, carrying a healthy-model that was passed on to her by her own mother. If you wanted to be healthy, you had to eat fruits, vegetables, meat, and all foods from other categories. So far so good. The problem is, I had to eat larger amounts than what my body wanted to pertain its functions, which made me a teenage girl with a round body. Of course, a girl with some extra pounds can be a laugh in the school community. This is what I also experienced a couple of times, which dropped my self-esteem and confidence. I was feeling awful and like an outcast in my own school. This had to change. And it did; one Monday morning, when I decided to go on a diet. If I had asked for a nutritionist’s help, I would not have gone through the ordeal that the future had reserved for me. After long hours thinking things through, I made up my mind: “This stops now. No more food for me."
And this is how it all started. I was not a fat girl. For the first couple of weeks, everything went clockwise. I was eating less and less, and while I was throwing away my dinner, when my mother was not watching, I was ecstatic to see my pounds melt away. Not long after, I skipped breakfast and only ate fruits and vegetables. For dinner? An egg, or toast, which soon was replaced by half a toast, only to be completely crossed out of my menu. The end of my first month found me with more than 20 pounds lost! What an amazing feeling! My peers at school were starting to make nice comments about my appearance, kids did not make fun of my weight THAT much anymore, and the boys begun to start looking at me as a girl, rather than a sack of potatoes.
I could not believe it! I was living a dream. So, I continued my starvation, turning my head away from the alarming signs of my body: dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision. I also felt my heart beating fast inside my chest.
After exactly 60 days, I had already lost all my excess weight and much more. My bones would start showing and my skin started to shrink. I was 15 pounds below average and kept losing weight within each passing day. Every time I looked in the mirror, I only saw a fat girl. I could not help it, but continue being on a “diet."
My father was worried sick.
“Shall we see a specialist? You need help, dear. Look in the mirrordo you even recognize that person you see?"
“You are oh-so wrong. I am better than never before!”
“You know, sweetheart, maybe we could talk to Dr. Berns and get some nutritional advice, so you lose weight and not your health. What do you say? Shall we call him?”
“Stop messing with my life! I told you, I am PERFECTLY FINE! Stay out and mind your business!!!”
“But, my girlYOU are my business. If something happens to you, I will have no reason to live. PLEASE do not shut me and your mom out of this.”
Then, there was nothing but a banging of the door that shattered the silence that spread in the room. It was not me talking. How could I talk to my dad like that?
My mother tried to put some vitamins and supplements in the juice she would bring in my room every day. At some point, I was not even drinking that. It is then, when my heart broke down. My body could not take up any more stress. I was taken to intensive care, where I had to fight hard to be here writing these lines.
The next weeks had a lot of praying involved, but luckily I was back, healthy and happy. If there is a turning point in one’s life that totally changes his/her worldview and perspective for the world, mine is then. As soon as I was released from the hospital, I joined a supportive group of people that had also been in my shoes, made more careful choices of who my friends would be from then on, and definitely learned to filter what was projected to me through the mass media. Ever since, I am much more balanced inside and out, eat healthy food in moderate amounts, go to the gym one to two times a week, and enjoy the outdoors every day when I walk my dog.
I realized that we should not pathetically accept what is “served” to us and that health is much more important than any thin ideal. It is nice to control your weight, but not to go the extremes. And, if someone wants to promote something that will put the future of the country at risk, in this case the young, they should be facing serious penalties and a fierce legislation.