Think Before you Diet


‘Remember, it’s your own body, your own brain. You’re not a victim of the universe, you are the universe.” Dr Richard Bandler

Our bodies are resilient and an amazing creation that are beyond our middling contemplation. The competition to be thin and to remain thin enough is rife in world entertainment industry. Contemporary media is obsessed with wafer thin body images that grace world fashion ramps. Celebrities with jutting collar bones and low body mass index (BMI) dominate magazine covers and often our TV screens.  The craze for thin body image has led to a rise in epidemic of eating disorder. Another endemic hitting medical faculties is ‘Body dysmorphia’, where an individual’s dissatisfaction with their body image has led them to use drastic measures to change the biological makeup of their body. People have used painstaking methods such as: plastic surgery, sewing patches on tongues, laser body sculpting and Zerona laser treatment to achieve their notion of perfect body. As the famous adage goes ‘all actions have a reaction’, and all methods to alter our body’s genetic makeup comes with horrific consequences and long term health problems.

Upon browsing the internet, I came across several Pakistani models that in 2005-2007 were a caricature of malnourished figures from refugee camps in Darfur. Now in 2012, it was surprising to see their transformation from sickly thin bodily image to wholesome figures. It was only after watching Aaminah Haq’s interview with Khawar Riaz and reading her tweets on twitter that it became clear how obsessed our entertainment industry is with thin body image. Aaminah Haq in Khawar Riaz show confessed to using liposuction in 2005 to get rid of unwanted body fat.  She tweeted saying “Aaminah Haq ‏@LaHaq . Sorry 2sound all judgy, but when I got Lipo I was in a mad rush to get thin at any cost, had I known what I know now, would have never done it.

Another tweet said:@LaHaq Diet pills, tummy tucks, Lipo, only take u so far& take huge toll on ur body. Changing it in ways that are not positive. Diet& work R the answer.”

Image: Khawar Riaz

Consequently for Aaminah Haq the novelty of having thin body soon wore off, and the adverse effects of liposuction were soon reflected on her body, as it led to weight gain and an imbalance in bodily metabolic rate. By reading her regular tweets, it was astonishing to see that no matter what she tried, how little she ate, how much she exercised, but shifting those extra kilos became impossible.

Amna Haq Before

Amna Haq Now

Natasha Hussain another wafer thin model on Khawar Riaz show spoke about her no eating regime. A mother of two openly admitted to eating little and said “Natty likes to be all skin and bones”. Well I do wonder how she managed to choke down those two bites of fish steak.

Another example of dangerous weight loss regime was revealed on uncovered Karachi by Scottish Actor Atta Yaqub, where Fareiha Altaf a model from 1980s era said “I took a break for four years, I was in Canada and I came back and first thing I saw that all these models were so skinny and had lost so much weight, so when I asked them, what had happened? They said it was Cocaine and E and all that.” This is not to stress that all models use drugs as a means to shed unwanted weight, but this is yet another glimpse into a dark world of weight loss.

In Pakistan, weight loss products are a new phenomenon.

Pharmacies and homeopathic stores window displays grace such overly commercialised products. It all looks so appealing, thin poster girls beckoning you to try these magic pills, oils, drinks to achieve a dream figure of Miss Universe. Once you walk past these large glossy posters your attention is diverted, you have to stop in your tracks and study the extra bold sub headings, promising guaranteed weight loss within weeks. Sadly, little do we realize the consequences of such products on our health, body and mind.

For instance take Johar e Chakotra, a magic weight loss drink made of so-called natural ingredients with added ingredients like mint, lemon, aloe vera and God knows what else. It costs under 400 rupees and is available at most Homeopathic stores across the country. The magic drink offers miracle cure to all your weight related problems. It is so brilliant that it will melt off all those extra kilos within weeks and will energize your mind and body. This is a drink for ultimate happiness. Wow after all these promises, why pay heed to WHO’s call for healthy eating and regular exercise, all we need is Johar e Chakotra. Now read the ingredients on reverse and it will only take few seconds for an average functioning mind to understand that all the listed ingredients have properties of diuretic that will ultimately result in loss of water weight from body and not fat. Now to get back to magic drink, on average you need to consume 2 bottles a week for a prolonged period, till you achieve desirable results. Well if desirable results are a size zero figure and lower BMI, then most probably you will end up in hospital with severe potassium deficiencies, failed kidneys and other complications. Out of hospital with loss potassium restored in your body through painful IV method and bam weight is back on. Now all this hardship for what? Not to forget the humiliation of being hospitalized and families and friends waging tongues.

We live in a country where TV has become a source of entertainment for our average female genre.We have an exposure to every kind of imaginable media. Our young minds are influenced by media and by the time they enter their mid-late teens, their minds have conceived an image of a body that is like Angelina Jolie, Katherine Heigel, Aamina sharif, or Deepika Padoukone’s. These are famous body images, a la mode body images, something a girl needs to have to feel accepted in society. All you have to do is skim through advice sections in women magazines and digests like Pakeeza, Kiran, khawateein and you will see how body dysmorphia is prevailing among our young women. What is astounding that most of these girls are as young as 17 and complain of societal, family pressure to shed weight, to have a lighter skin tone to be able to find a suitable candidate for marriage. It is a matter of time before Pakistan realizes the full impact of such influence on young minds. The struggling families from all walks of life will endear hardships to find appropriate medical, psychological help for their daughter’s body dysmorphia and eating disorder. The problem needs to be addressed on national level, and we need to educate our population on healthy and structured eating.


About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.


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