Starved for beauty

Two trained UK doctors who stopped eating to stay thin bring the angst of anorexics to the fore.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 20, 2011 12:54 IST
Shara Ashraf
Shara Ashraf
Hindustan Times

Is being a pack of bones equivalent to being beautiful? London based twins Maria and Katy Campbell, 33, who are trained doctors, shockingly thought so. The sisters entered into an ‘anorexia pact’ when they were 11, vowing not to eat more than 400 calories a day to avoid gaining weight. At 5’5’’, Maria weighs 38 kg and Katy weighs 31 kg, both have never had period and they yearn for motherhood.

Not limited to the West
If you thought that anorexia is a western concept, listen to what city docs have to say. “An increasing number of adolescent girls are suffering from anorexia and resorting to wildest ways to lose weight, from puking to taking medicines meant for diabetic patients to doing drugs and chain smoking,” says Dr. Surbhee Soni, clinical psychologist, Fortis LaFemme.

She shares that a 17-year-old anorexic girl was recently rushed to her in a disoriented state. “She had not eaten for five days. She had developed severe behavioural problem and used to beat up maids if they served her anything fried,” says the psychologist. Dr. M. P Sharma HOD, Gastroenterology, Rockland Hospital shares, “I am treating a large number of young girls who have reduced their stomach capacity to an extent that their body has started rejecting food.”

Who’s to be blamed?
Documentary photographer Sanjay Austa who is busy with a project titled ‘Girls Like Us’ that features ‘real women’ and not models says, “TV ads and fashion glossies that glamourise wafer thin bodies are the biggest trigger of anorexia. I am shooting with real women to show how beautiful voluptuous figures are.” Prachi Agarwal, health expert, Fitho agrees that young girls face mind-boggling pressure to look great. Parents often forget to tell young girls that beauty is about being fit and not thin. Inculcating healthy eating habits must begin in the childhood itself.”

What’s anorexia?
Anorexia is an eating disorder resulting out of extreme dieting. It can be triggered by an upsetting event or a teasing remark. An anorexic becomes preoccupied with calorie counting and believes she is fat while in reality, she is underweight.

First Published: Jun 19, 2011 16:26 IST