Lina had just reached her adolescent stage when she was diagnosed with PCOD. Initially, she was not worried about her disorder but her concern began to grow as friends and neighbours started pointing at her due to the weight she began to gain. Soon she became more conscious of how she appeared in front of others. To avoid embarrassment, she started keeping fast thrice a week. She purchased increasingly larger sizes of abaya so that she could hide her curve. To the outside world, it might appear that Lina was inspired to pursue a spiritual path toward Allah but a closer look would reveal that this was instead a problematic pattern of coping adopted by Lina. Let’s decode this!
“Allah does not look at your outward appearance and your goods. He looks only at your hearts and your deeds.” (Muslim, Birr, 33; Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 9; Ahmad b. Hanbal, 2/285, 539)
To gain a better understanding of Lina’s situation, we first need to define the meaning of body image. Body image emphasizes how we perceive and feel about our bodies. A positive body image allows us to accept our body instead of enduring it. This enables us to be more welcoming of the changes that need to be incorporated without losing our sense of self. The way we conceptualize body image influences our ability to view ourselves as a whole. This ensures that our body image shares a positive relationship with self-esteem.
ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN BODY IMAGE FORMATION
Our generation is obsessed with acquiring the tag of “eye candy” which means one has to appear in the best form and shape to keep their esteem high even at the expense of their health. In doing so, they are damaging not only their physical health but their mental health too. The media acts as fuel to reinforce this concept. Adolescents brandish a pattern that seeks to establish a link between “ideal body image” and “self-esteem”. Research has affirmed that youth distorts their real identity while moulding themselves with what the media shows them. As a result, they are developing unhealthy habits that affect their long-term health. The media portrayal shows how it becomes so compelling to maintain a certain body size and attain a certain standard of beauty to be worthy of social acceptance. The world of social media tells us that the main purpose of life is to be slim and thin. Advertisements effectively mess up people’s emotions. Companies are well equipped with what would grasp people’s thoughts and emotions, thereby prosecuting them to accept their pseudo-health beliefs while leaving a massive impact on their minds.
Social media exposure makes people compare their real selves with what they see on such sites. They are completely unaware that what they encounter is not true as a whole, thus they indulge in attaining false idealistic goals. To bridge this gap between “real self” and “ideal self”, while not being able to do so, put them into the loop of low self-esteem and low self-confidence. It all gets started when the person perceives him as not good enough. They seem to be dissatisfied with their appearance. They took a series of steps that ultimately led them to adopt unhealthy eating habits which either made them lose ample pounds or in return ended up gaining more weight.
A BETTER PERSPECTIVE ON BODY IMAGE
Statistical data have shown that 75% of women felt that the portrayal of women on social media is unrealistic. Yet many women are affected by what they come across on social media. It is during the adolescence stage, that children seem to be very much grounded in building their personality. Strangely enough, certain movies developed the culture of creating a link between body weight and the personality of a person. The more pounds one carries, the more negative disposition this person has.
Hence, during the early stages of their lives, parental support reprimands them for inculcating such self-distorted images.
A qualitative study based on social media and body image in early adolescent girls mitigates how positive parental support and school environment eradicate the negative aspect of social media.
Another research conducted on Swedish girls and boys revealed that positive body image is correlated with acceptance. Such adolescents discarded the media’s portrayal of body image and claimed it to be “unrealistic”. Their definition of beauty inclined more towards the idea of expressing oneself.
Bulimia and anorexia turn out to be the latest eating disorders spreading wide across the globe.
Bulimia: The whole concept of bulimia arises when people partake in an ample amount of food and then put themselves into a series of unhealthy habits to shed extra fats. People having bulimia finish quite a large amount of food within a shorter period. They grow this pattern of binge-eating, which represents if they lost their sense of control. The more they consume food, the more they feel like it has done an injustice to their body. The accurate cause of bulimia still seems to be unknown. Unsatisfied perceptions about their body type lead them to bulimia. Sometimes encountering bullies from their childhood times coupled with the demands of societal norms made them go through emotional stress, depression, and anxiety that is cultivated within the urge to lose weight. Yet they find themselves in the twist of eating more and gaining weight, leaving them with guilt and shame.
Anorexia: The obsession with acquiring a certain standard weight as described by the media is the main reason that culminates in this psychological disorder. “Belief in a negative image of their body” pushes them to adopt an unhealthy diet and to exercise unnecessarily. With the thought of losing weight, they deprived themselves of having proper nutrient-containing food. People with anorexia induce dysmorphic disorders, where they are absorbed in seeking defects in their bodies that are not there.