Teen Struggles:The Way I Look Or How I Think?

Hello beautiful people, I can’t believe we’re in July already. Time definitely waits for no one these days. Anyways, how was your Sunday? I hope it was as beautiful as you all are. Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, let’s get back to the issue at hand.Permit me to take your mind on a wild ride.

Visualise this. It’s a Thursday night in the typical Nigerian setting- black infinite sky, everyone seems to be bursting with life, mosquitoes in the air and generators polluting the atmosphere with their incessant noises and fumes, you get the gist. After bothering your parents every day for weeks, they finally let you sleep over at your best friend’s crib and you just couldn’t wait to get the party started (Yass gurl). Her parents were going to be away, so it was bound to be a night of unadulterated, memorable fun with her. Fast forward to the part where y’all are binge watching your favourite movie series, Riverdale (fill in as appropriate) and filling up y’alls stomachs with the unhealthiest foods possible: ice-cream, all sorts of chocolates, pizza and the list goes on. Right after that intense make out session between Archie and Veronica(Varchie!), she announces that she has to go to her room to get her phone.

Seconds turn into minutes and half an hour later, she isn’t back. You get a gut feeling that something isn’t quite alright and weird chills take over your body. You quickly drop the KitKat and skip upstairs to her room hoping to see her asleep, but you don’t. Instead you hear her gagging, choking, and cursing at no one in particular ,all the while crying. ‘’Maybe I shouldn’t invade her personal space’’, you think. But something about this situation doesn’t feel right and so you go into her bathroom to a horrid scene. Right before your very eyes is your best friend -kneeling beside her toilet bowl, fingers in mouth, poking her guts and spilling its’ semi-liquid contents while muttering words of encouragement under her breath – ‘’just one more time and I’ll be perfect’’, she sobs.

Anorexia, bulimia, laxatives, appetite suppressants. Perhaps, you’ve come across one or more of these words in your Biology textbook. You may have even watched a movie concerning the issue just yesterday, but you wondered how it would affect you and your life. Well, the thing about eating disorders is that you would never know who or where it may strike next. The signs aren’t always apparent. You might even be a victim looking for ways to end your days of misery. Help is on its way, just hang on and carefully read this post.

First things first, let’s get a little familiar with some of the terms above:

-Anorexia: Also called anorexia nervosa, is an eating disorder which causes its’ victims to obsess about their weights and what they eat.

-Bulimia: Also called bulimia nervosa, is an eating disorder characterized by bingeing (eating excessively), followed by various purging methods to avoid weight gain.

-Laxatives: Any drug that stimulates the evacuation of the bowels (the intestines). Can be called purgatives or aperients.

-Appetite suppressants: Any drug or substance which when taken suppresses hunger or appetite for food.

I did a little research and found out that more than a hundred thousand cases of anorexia and bulimia are reported in Nigeria yearly. Wow! That’s a lot of people being affected. Now, let us go further into this very disheartening topic.

  • Signs of Eating disorders

-Constant dieting

-Hiding food or food wrappers

-Eating in secret

-Eating to the point of discomfort or pain

-Self-induced vomiting and purging

-Excessive exercise

-Frequent bathroom trips

-Playing with or cutting up food into tiny portions and eventually avoiding its consumption.

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How do you expect the character from the illustrated story above to react? She cried obviously. All the books she read and the movies she watched didn’t provide her with the tips she’d need to help her friend, didn’t even come close. And so, she wept, wept for dear life while holding her dying but darling best friend close to her chest.

Obviously, these body image problems and eating disorders don’t just arise overnight, a lot of words and actions from their surrounding environments cause these victims to step into that death trap and succumb to detrimental actions.

  • Main Causes of Eating Disorders

-Low self-esteem: When you assure yourself that your chubbiness is a curse and fail to associate with others because of it, it will turn out to be a curse. Wearing clothes that cover up every single part of your body will eventually cause you to stick out like a sore thumb. Sometimes, it’s the ones that we hold in high esteem that put us down without knowing it. It could be your mum, friend or random strangers, maybe everyone tells you that you’re overweight and you just want to crawl into a hole and die.

-Feelings of inadequacy: People are mean. They’ll call you big for nothing or worse names. They’ll make you feel like you’re not enough or that you’re inadequate for them.

-Bullying: Nowadays, teens everywhere are being bullied by other teens like us. It is not always physical damage that hurts the most, verbal abuse hurts like hell. Just because you don’t look the same as they do, you become the victim of their vicious jokes, cruel words and merciless taunts.

-Depression: We have all engaged in it at some point in time-eating for comfort or forgetting to eat because of sad occurrences or depression. Afterwards, you feel angry, sad, weak and stupid for giving in to food or skipping those meals.

-Loneliness: Sometimes it just happens. You’re the new girl at a new school and you feel very out of place. People aren’t even helping matters by pretending that you don’t exist. With no friends apart from the ever-looming loneliness, you’d turn to the one thing you’re not so happy with yourself about-your weight; and blame it for scaring everyone away.

It turns out that Daisy, the victim of the eating disorder above came to after a few hours. She was immediately asked to explain why she engaged in such an act of self-destruction. She confessed, ‘’Remember when you gave me that skin-tight gown? “I tried to fit in it, but it was a little bit too tight and my stomach kept bulging out; all I wanted was to look as flawless as you always do for once.” Plus, you always used to say I had too much face fat and that I looked weird smiling’’, she rambled in tears. ’But you always laughed it off, you never objected!’’, her best friend exclaimed. Daisy thought for a moment and croaked, “I always laugh whenever you insult me, I’m sorry for making you cry so much though.’’ Her best friend then said, ‘I’m truly sorry for putting you through so much and I hope you can forgive me but why didn’t you tell me?’’

I’ll tell you why she stayed silent through the pains and put on those fake smiles. She’s scared that’s why-scared to bother you, scared that you’d treat her differently ,like a fragile piece of glass. Scared of how you’d think of her. And so, she lives in constant fear; of not achieving perfection, of her image in the mirror, of people’s stares and their judgements, of the scale. Maybe you’re like Daisy or you know someone like her. Give them help because they are not alone. If there’s a way in, then there’s a way out.

  • Ways to Break Loose from A Negative Body Image/Eating Disorders

-An important thing to note about eating disorders is that before affecting its’ victims physically, it affects them mentally. So, the first step is changing that mentality of aiming to be perfect. Do yourself a huge favour, stop trying to achieve perfection because it doesn’t exist in this world.

-Eat good food: Add low-calorie foods, fruits and a lot of water to your meal plan. When dieting, eat in small portions several times daily and don’t starve yourself, it never helps.

-Exercise for at least twenty minutes a day to lose weight healthily.

-Talk to your loved ones, a therapist or anyone who helps in general.

-Don’t tie your self-love to the numbers on the scale.

-Keep a journal: Put down your positive thoughts.

-Build your confidence: Keep in mind that the way you see yourself is undeniably the way others will see you. Even if you aren’t confident with your appearance, fake it until you make it. Constantly complaining about your body and insulting yourself in the presence of other people is indirectly giving them the key information to bully and belittle you with. Look in that mirror at your wonderful image and tell yourself that you are beautiful. Keep your head help up high, strut with elegance and watch your confidence level skyrocket.

-Accept compliments and be comfortable with who you are.

-Surround yourself with people who feel positive about their bodies.

-Stop comparing yourself to other people.

-Recognize different views of beauty: Being a thick chick doesn’t make you less attractive or diminish your worth. Not everyone was born to be thin or resemble a mannequin.

-Set realistic weight loss goals and celebrate the small wins.

-Love yourself and your flaws because without them you would be just another drop in the ocean – an insignificant duplicate.

-Don’t eat for comfort, due to boredom or late at night.

-Finally, it’s essential to look up to people with similar body types as yours. Personally, I think Khloe Kardashian, Jordyn Woods and Ashley Graham make great role models. Who said you can’t be plus size and a model at the same time? You go, curvy girl!

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The journey to possessing and maintaining a positive body image is a long one and mind-blowing transformations weren’t attained in a day. Be consistent with your workouts if you choose to lose weight. Eventually, the results will show. And don’t forget to love yourself the way you are-thin, curvy, short, tall, white, black and so on, the forms are endless. Let the world know you’re beautiful just the way you are; flaws and all because you deserve happiness and so much more.

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P.S: DON’T STOP LIVING, LOVING AND LAUGHING!!!

HUGS AND AIR KISSES,
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