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Sunday, 27 April 2003  
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Having those 'hot' looks

by Umangi de Mel

Tall, slender, pretty and thus hot chic. Tall, dark, well built and thus hot stuff. Ooh the modern images of hot dudes and dudettes who go through god-knows-what to achieve their `hot' looks. It's a risk anybody takes putting themselves on rigorous diets.

These `shortcuts' to a `Bold and the Beautiful' figure have their own repercussions and dangers.

"Body image is a mental image a person has about his body or face," says Ranil Abeysinghe, Consultant Psychiatrist, University of Peradeniya.

"This is why drawing an accurate self portrait is very difficult,"he continues adding that a person's internal image is far different from the person they see in the mirror.

"Body image is an important matter. It's not the shape or the appearance one has in reality that governs our behaviour but the internal image," he says. Those who believe that they are too tall, try to appear a little shorter while those who believe that they are not pretty, dress up to look pretty.

According to our shrink, a lot of teenagers, irrespective of their gender, are affected with the `body image' issue. Especially when it first makes the entrance during the transition period of children, when their bodies undergo changes, the issue comes to the young as a blow. "The teenagers, who are obviously not very sure of who they are, start worrying about their body, shape or proportion. It could be the shape of the nose, face, chest, buttocks, stomach, legs and height," he reveals.

Trying to match their bodies to the perfect shapely figures they see on TV, or movies, teenagers who can never be satisfied, worry sick thinking they are either too tall or too short. "You rarely find a teenager who's happy with his body. But fortunately it's just a passing phase, that starts with the age 12/13, but by the time they are 17/18, they get over the issue," he says.

Body image includes size. Certain teens, especially females develop the idea that they are too fat where as in reality they may be very thin. The internal body image doesn't correspond to the real image. "When they believe that they are 'really fat' (when they are technically not) they cut down on their meals which should be the other way round. Reducing meals is totally unnecessary as they might be in need of nutritious food.

It could lead to `Anorexia' eventually," he says adding that this obsessive desire to reduce weight prevents them from eating starchy, nutritious food including sweets. "They puke after eating."

Anorexia Nervosa, the eating disorder that has its roots in the west is a serious problem that has come to Sri Lanka. "There are many side effects when they keep losing weight.

They stop getting their periods, have very little energy to do anything and get depressed as they come to a point where they can't put an end to losing weight," he points out. He reveals that Anorexia, in the past wasn't recognised. It's growing awareness that leads to diagnosis.

"Bulimia Nervosa is the other problem that arises with indiscriminate weight loss." Dr. Abeysinghe says that those who are quite normal with an average weight, develop an uncontrollable appetite as they overeat that alternates with self-induced vomiting.

"It's definitely uncommon in Sri Lanka but it is catching up now. It's overall pressure for young females to have slimmer bodies that contributes to it," he says. Peer pressure is the other contributing factor.

"Nowadays, school children are very skinny. More girls don't eat and their weight is between normal and underweight," he points out. According to Dr.Abeysinghe, many undetected disorders exist and young girls in their early 20s fall victim to them.

Males too are affected with the body image issue. But they are more concerned about individual features like the nose, shape of the face etc.

And when it comes to their bodies, they seem to think that they're too thin. As a result they eat and visit the gym.

That way, they escape eating disorders," he says.

Forget about the so called images that push you to become slender just to make you become a bag of bones at the end, girls.

God has plans for everyone irrespective of the size or the shape of your bodies. Go right ahead, Eat those image problems away!!

Chief Executive Officer

GM- Marketing & Business Development

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