Thin or fat, your body size is not a health quotient

Published: 08th November 2016 10:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2016 03:26 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Your body is your home, with scars, triumphs, tragedies and stories. Fit bodies don’t necessarily tell the tale of a healthy person, just like how overweight bodies don’t imply laziness. City Express catches up with a few doctors and women in the city about their tryst with body positivity and health.

Sharanya, (name changed) has always been on the heavier side in a family of lean people, which made her very conscious. “My family had this perception that maybe fat shaming is okay because it will give me motivation to lose weight,” she says, adding that she tried several crash diets, before finally getting admitted in the hospital for anaemia three years ago. “A common misconception is that anaemia is a thin person’s disease, so I was quite shocked. I even underwent clinical depression. I had to start from the beginning, and learn to love and care for my body,” she added.
Today, she is 5ft 6in and weighs 70 kg, exercises once a day and can do the splits like a pro. “Down the line, I realised that it’s not about how you look. It’s all about how you feel, and being active is important at whatever weight you are.”

Dr Nithya Mohan, a professor and counsellor, agrees that the effects of a lifetime of shame and stigma can be profound. “Oversized and underweight people actually stigmatise themselves. They blame themselves and self-loathing can be a prominent feature, which puts them at risk for anxiety and depression. Weight shaming can set off other problems like binge eating and avoiding exercise,” she explains.
“Health is not a one-size-fits-all definition. While eating well and engaging in exercise definitely improves health, the extent of it varies with each individual,” opines Dr Rajamohan, who adds that just because certain factors seem related on the surface, it doesn’t translate to a cause-and-effect equation. “While obesity can cause diseases, a small wiry person can have the same problems. It depends on a host of other factors.”

Farah (name changed), a petite woman of 32, wasted a decade of her life struggling with turns of anorexia and binge eating disorder (BED). “It was only in the last few years that I found medical reasons to recover, my fertility and type 2 diabetes. It becomes mentally taxing, and takes so long to heal,” she says, as she talks to us over the phone before her ariel yoga class.
Like hundreds of other women out there, Farah and Sharanya learnt the importance of accepting and loving their bodies the hard way. It shouldn’t have to be a struggle. Body shaming (of any kind) is wrong, and does not help anyone get healthy. Working towards de-stigmatising is paramount; it’s the only towards an active and healthy society that includes people of all shapes and sizes. Let’s promote health in a way that it isn’t about shame.


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