In the era radical digitisation, we are bombarded with images of very skinny, unhealthy-weight celebrities, exposing an image "perfect" to which we aspire. However, even celebrities or famous people are just people, imperfect, and it has been proven time and time again that those pictures or posts are not real and are edited with all sorts of apps. However, society imposes certain standards to which we women in particular, but we do not exclude men as well, must obey because "so says society". We feel overwhelmed by these canons of perfection and no longer know how to enjoy everything around us. These standards can even lead to the development of very serious illnesses that can destroy us in the true sense of the word.
Anorexia is a disease that we should be very concerned about because it is lethal. It predominantly affects women, but men can also be affected. "Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves a person's inability to maintain a weight that is considered minimal for their age and weight. People suffering from this disorder usually have a strong fear of gaining weight, even if they are underweight. They often resort to extreme dieting, excessive exercise or other methods to lose weight.." That's how MedLife Blog defines anorexia.
Causes The triggers of the disease are not known with certainty, but it is believed that genetic inheritance, hormonal activity and social attitudes are some of the factors that play an important role in its onset. "Risk factors may include:
- being a perfectionist;
- excessive and progressive concern for your body weight and shape;
- presence of digestive and eating disorders during childhood;
- one or both parents have suffered from anorexia or various forms of addiction;
- low self-esteem and a high level of negative feelings in general;
- going through stressful life moments, such as changing jobs or unpleasant experiences like rape or abuse." MedLife Blog says.
A diagnosis of anorexia can be made if a person:
- is very afraid of gaining weight, even if she is underweight;
- refuses to maintain at a weight considered normal or acceptable for his/her age and weight (weight is less than 85% of the weight considered normal);
- has a distorted image of their own body; focuses excessively on weight loss and refuses to acknowledge its seriousness;
- have not had a menstrual period for three or more consecutive months (in the case of women)." MedLife Blog states.
Other behavioural traits specific to anorexics are: going to the bathroom after every meal, over-exercising, refusing to eat in the company of others, taking laxatives and diuretics, depression, anxiety, brittle bones and confused thinking.
Like any other illness, anorexia can be cured, especially if caught at an early stage. There are various methods that are used to relieve symptoms and cure patients, but the most current and recent way to fight it is "MDMA-assisted therapy". It's a new discovery in the psychological sphere because MDMA has been approved as a drug to treat various conditions in 2021 by the FDA, the US National Drug Agency. This new procedure consists of two optimal components, without one, the other cannot work and vice versa, as it requires a good clinician to handle the psychotherapy and at the same time the administration of MDMA for the therapy to be complete. This substance is not in itself a solution for overcoming the condition, but this dual approach, both biological and clinical, leads to obvious results. MDMA-assisted therapy helps patients cope with their condition and may indicate a way outeven if they can't find it. The substance can enhance pleasant feelings for the patient because it can increase positive feelings, such as empathy, self-confidence, trust in others and strengthen the relationship between patient and clinician.
But still, how does MDMA-assisted therapy help with treating anorexia? MDMA reduces anxiety and facilitates the release of oxycitin and prolactin, which are two hormones that help people bond and help patients talk openly about trauma or sad events in their lives. However, this substance is listed as a banned substance.
In the USA, the substance has been approved for clinical research. 750 people were tested to study its benefits and risks in 2018. It was concluded that the substance's risks are related to increased body temperature and heart rate, but the effects are transient and physically healthy patients have minimal risk of developing side effects. However, in clinical use, the substance can only be administered a few times in psychotherapy sessions, as they do not want their patients to become addicted to the substance.
MDMA-assisted therapy helps, in conclusion, to relieve and resolve problems related to anorexia, depression and mental disorders, but in small doses and under the supervision of a specialist, because you don't want to treat one problem and unleash another, that of drug addiction. This therapy is still in its infancy and may even bear fruit in solving these serious problems that affect so many people.
Speaking of drug addiction and anorexia, one area where anorexia claims victims every day is fashion world, because these two elements are unfortunately very present in this landscape. The models' testimonies about the torments they had to accept or are forced to undergo in order to be perfect and look impeccable are indescribable. Starvation, drug abuse to relieve hunger and prostitution are some of the situations they have to endure.
There are many example typical of the fashion world in which models find themselves in a situation they consider without escape. One example is models who are in debt to agencies and can't leave the industry because they don't have the money to pay it off and have to comply with requirements such as being very poor. Another example is that of Ana Carolina Reston, who died at 21 of anorexia, and its importance is due to the fact that it is the first and most famous case about this problem in the fashion world. Models, in order to keep themselves slim and fit, for example, also eat make-up remover discs soaked in orange juice, as they curb their hunger and don't put calories on them. Which is absolutely worrying. All these problems can be fatal.
"Obsessive-compulsive elements are often prominent - most are preoccupied with food-related ideas, other associated elements are inflexible thinking, perfectionism, extremely restricted emotional expression, emotional lability, excessive drinking or drug abuse." Says the Medical Center for Diagnosis and Treatment "Dr. Victor Babes".
Starvation and substance abuse banned are typical elements in the fashion world. The high pressure models are under is very damaging to their psyche. Perfection and the standards to which they are subjected are very harmful to them, because it is very easy to fall into a pit (anorexia and drug abuse), but very hard to get out of it. Drug abuse is very prevalent in this world, because using you "helps" to lose weight, suppress hunger and forget physical discomforts. Life as a model is not as rosy as it seems, as they are subject to mental abusebut not only that, and they are under pressure to lose weight, to be as thin as possible, they are subjected to starvation in order not to get fat, and all this is a vicious cycle that is very difficult for them to escape from. They take refuge in drugs, which harms them even more, and the whole thing repeats itself, over and over again.
The fashion industry puts a lot of pressure on models because standards required are far too exaggerated, are very strict and it is normal for them to experience major problems such as anorexia, depression and as a consequence the use of banned substances. All this leads to a alienate of the person suffering from these disorders, which causes a severe isolation of the individual, who finds no escape from his condition. More than 60% of the models are anorexic and more than half have used cocaine, all to become a known model. Drug and alcohol use is common in the fashion world, as these practices reduce hunger pangs but can be harmful.
Anorexia is a deadly disease that affects many women, but also men. The standards imposed by company are the ones that destroy self-esteem and confidence because we "we don't look like the women on the catwalk or on the Internet". Our period of fragility is around 12-15 years old, when adolescence begins, and that's when children start worrying about how they look. We've all gone through a period where we've had to adapt to fashions or trends, but some have got carried away, because in the end that's not all that matters. What really matters is feeling good about ourselves. Respect and self-confidence builds up over time and it's up to us whether we go with the flow or resist and stay afloat. Anorexia starts from an inner discomfort of our own, which we manifest through behaviour that is harmful to our outer self.
These message is addressed to all people who do not love and respect themselves and who can fall prey to this disease: all our life we will live with ourselves and if we live hating and despising ourselves we will live a meaningless life, so self-love is the key success.
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Fashion, beauty, reviews and health intern at Daily Magazine.