Many teenagers have been strongly affected by ads premoting slimming products and programmes. Some now believe that they have to be slim to be beautiful and go to extreme and unreasonable lengths in an attempt to lose weight. Your have just attended a talk on 'Health and Beauty' organised by the Department of Health. At the talk, a medical doctor, a social worker and an ex-patient recovering from an eating disorder spoke about the issue, drawing on their expertise and experience.
Write an article for your school magazine sharing what u have learnt from each of the three speakers. Cive the article a title.
The quest for a perfect body – a total caricature of beauty
“ ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’ (Shakespeare), ‘it is what is inside that counts’ (from Bible), and ‘carnal beauty is but skin deep’ (a famous English proverb), are all no longer relevant. What “counts” now lies in the cheesy emblem well illustrated in untrue advertisements or wanton magazines - slimness. And as if this in itself is not “carnal” enough, from time to time you are tempted to lead a total abstinence, which is to say, not eating for a long time,” Doctor Lau started the talk with such an interesting, somewhat amusing, opening speech. “If all these things have nothing to do with our health, then so be them,” he added, with his voice intensifying, “but unfortunately these screwy concepts do cost your health, deeply. So the question now becomes clear, do you want beauty, or health? ”
Doctor Lau was among the three guests invited to a talk in which I recently attended, “Health and Beauty”, organized by the Department of Health. As implied in the title, the aim of the talk was to redress misconceptions held by many boys and girls and give them a correct attitude towards one’s own appearance. Indeed, at an age when they thirst after recognition from peer as well as the opposite sex, many teenagers, especially girls, are more than willing to sacrifice their health to acquire an enviable body size. They may seek every means possible, however unreasonable and extreme it is, to achieve the goal. This, as Doctor Lau attested, can wreak great damage to the teenagers’ health.
Teenagers wishing to lose weight, according to Doctor Lau, are highly susceptible to a common eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. Patients suffering from the disorder mostly have an abnormal trepidation of becoming fat. This dread brings about deliberate starvation, excessive exercise or even coercing oneself into vomiting. So there is no doubt that sufferers of this kind of eating disorder are often stereotyped as meager, bony and emaciated. People afflicted with the disorder might for a moment consider their body shapes satisfying, yet just over a short span their already very “slim” body would seem intolerable again. The intolerance then takes the patient back to the attempts to reduce weight. This forms a vicious cycle. By then the anorexic victims would have their health put in peril.
The second speaker, Miss Chia, was an experienced social worker. She concurred with Doctor Lau’s viewpoint and added that ”apart from poor health, teens trying to lose weight may fall prey to something equally sinister – jeopardy of their interpersonal relationships with others.” For one scenario, she suggested, when they are determined to make themselves look slim, they are bound to be self-absorbed. If their friends “dare” advise them to stop such nonsense, they are naturally put into a dilemma – whether to really take his or her advice, or simply consider the friend as a “toxic” one. While some can turn a new leaf when facing this dilemma, many cannot. Finally their friend cannot stand it anymore and leave. The youngsters left behind would turn out to be both depressed and frustrated, and then have to be referred to a social worker. “Given all these, why not take the leap of faith and believe that you yourself are slim enough?” Miss Chia questioned.
“Though, the complexion is not as simplistic as it may seem to ordinary people.” Along with the doctor and social worker was a healthy-looking girl, Chris, unbelievably a former sufferer of bulimia nervosa, another typical eating disorder. “Every time after I ate, I vomited. I felt terrible!” She was not able to eat, for she felt guilty once she did. “I thought I would get fat soon after I ate, then very probably I would turn ugly again. I knew, I really knew, that it was bad for my body, but somehow I could not control myself.” Chris was not by herself, though. Many of her friends kept encouraging her, showing their support. Later, she consulted the school social worker, and with the social worker’s help, her situation was gradually mitigated. “Now I weigh 107lbs, not the slimmest, but I think I am now among the most contented! I feel I am healthy, and happy as well! That’s enough, isn’t it?”
Everybody is unique. We do not need to stereotype ourselves to be a set appearance. A little bit more self-esteem or even narcissism does not hurt. While we have long been taught to be appreciative of others, I suppose it is time we be appreciative of ourselves.