This week on 'Amal Muses', I discuss the pressures of being skinny (you know it happens to almost every red-blooded gal). You can read the whole column below!
PS: I should really think twice about publishing a pasty, makeup-less picture of myself in the papers next time LOL
AMAL MUSES: The Thin Dream
By Amal Ghazali
Let’s face it. Every woman, at some point in their lives, wished they were thin or thinner than they already were. No matter how embracing you are of your own figure, there will be a time when you come across a poster of Megan Fox and begin to daydream about a day where your bum does not resemble a deflating beach ball. We live in a material world where physical appearance matters. And whether we like it or not, physical appearance in this context usually means a thinner, leaner and less pudgy you.
I can’t speak for every woman, but I can certainly reflect on my own experiences as a young woman in an era of a specifically celebrated body type. Growing up most of my friends were females, and body image issues were often a theme in our discussions. Part of emerging into adulthood also meant blossoming physically, with hormones askew and pressures to idolise a media-approved figure skyrocketing. Today it is not any less daunting, as declining metabolism, motherhood and such becomes emerging limitations.
It Started With A Boy, Of Course
But of course it started with the appealing idea of gaining attention from a boy. I came from an all girls’ school, which meant high school years free of being body conscious for the sake of the opposite sex. My first glimpse of the underlying teenage esteem issues was when a girl I shared a dormitory with forced herself to throw up almost every night after dinner. She had a boyfriend at the time and the desired shape amongst her social circle was not curvy.
Then I went to college and began to see boys - a lot of them too. With that came the sudden realisation of male adoration, and with that adoration came a consciousness to look worth adoring. As a student I lived with other girls from the same college, and thus began the antics of comparing ourselves with others, trying out fads and diets, introducing ourselves to various trendy exercise regimes and experimenting with commercial products apparently guaranteed to give you waistlines smaller than Malik Noor’s arm.
I had a housemate who tried the Herbalife supplement, but the idea of replacing two meals a day for a liquid shake gave me shivers. I decided to opt for an Atkins diet instead, surviving for only three and a half days. Not eating any carbs made me feel so lethargic that I hallucinated about crawling towards the fridge in the middle of the night. A friend decided that perhaps weed could make you lose weight, but the concept did not seem sustainable (or legal). I had a stint of not eating rice at all, and let me tell you, asking a Malaysian girl to not eat rice is almost suicidal.
And then as employment came in, so did the pay check that subtly urged us to shift our views towards purchasable aids to make us smaller.
There was a stint of a new-age corset with some strange infra-red technology, promising to make you lose weight effortlessly just by putting them on.
There were those magical ‘drinks’ that could allegedly burn fat from the inside, a vibrating machine that could apparently shake the calories out of you, and even expensive massages to tone your way into a Jessica Alba. The list is endless.
I was either a witness or a participant of most of these things, and I began to realise that the circle was never ending. We were complaining about wanting to be thin when we were girls, and we are still doing that same exact thing twenty years later.
It Is Normal To Want To Be Thin
In general, a balanced body weight is of course a preliminary indicator of a healthy body. Aesthetically, the common culture would assess that the slimmer shape is more desirable. It makes me wince to say that, but that’s the truth of what you see on magazines and TV. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense why most of us yearn to have a thinner physique.
But against these dreams is also the question of compromising our actual health. We take so-called mysterious ‘supplements’, put on strange devices and obsess over our bodies to the point that it tampers with our self-esteems. Ironically, our mental and physical state are declining as we attempt to appear thinner. What a bizarre contradiction.
For those who didn't get the chance to read my column earlier in May (above), you can do so by going to the link below.