Aside from the scientific definition that we’d find in nutrition books or on Google, there was an amusing explanation I once read on social media that caught my eye not too long ago. It said that calories are small creatures that live in your closet, and their job is to make your clothes a little bit tighter every day.
I have never in my entire life met a woman who is fully confident about her appearance. A woman is usually always worried about how people see her. I will not talk here about the impact that Instagram and the photos of models and celebrities has on women’s confidence regarding their appearance and pride in their body, since the great impact of these unrealistic images — which are often altered through Photoshop to remove the cellulite and wrinkles of famous women on social media — has become common knowledge.
The obsession with this type of luxury was expected to wane due to the catastrophic situation, however, the interest Lebanese women continue to show in dieting, avoiding fatty foods, and counting calories is still very tangible
What I would like to talk about is what I had witnessed during my visit to Lebanon, a country that has been recently suffering from an alarming economic situation, a severe drop in the value of the currency, social and political corruption, chaos, destruction, poverty, unemployment, and a complete dependence on money and aid from expatriates.
It is known that a large segment of Lebanese people who live in cities care about their looks and appearance, to the extent that Beirut has become the Middle East capital of fitness, botox and plastic surgery.
The obsession with this type of luxury had been expected to fall back in the recent period due to the poor economic situation. However, the interest that Lebanese women continue to show in dieting, avoiding fatty foods, and counting calories is still very present.
Scientifically, the consequences and implications of being obsessed with calories include the feelings of guilt and self-loathing. When a person eats food that contains a large number of calories, they may feel like they have made a huge mistake and would begin to punish themselves by crying and depriving their body of food.
And so from here comes the second point; self-punishment. When those who suffer from a dieting obsession stray away from the diet they’re following for even a little, they punish themselves by limiting even more food, or exercising for longer. Thus they become people who devote a great deal of time on strictly implementing their preferred diet.
That is why what I saw in Lebanon really surprised me! Even as food prices continue to increase, a sizable segment of women still do not consume carbohydrates such as bread, rice, and pasta, even though they are the most affordable in the market.
In a country constantly ravaged by crises and wars, some may resort to cosmetic surgery to imitate fashion models and diets to lose weight, as a sort of outlet for these women and a means to escape from these crises because of their inability to change the reality they are in. Therefore they change the way they look and deprive themselves of certain foods that may in the not-too-distant future become the only foods available on the market.
When I asked some girl friends and relatives about this, they admitted that they mostly depend on money transfers from abroad to maintain their diets and lifestyle. They say that if the transfers stop, they will have to deprive themselves of food if the available food does not suit their diet and could possibly lead to weight gain.
In a country constantly ravaged by crises and wars, some may resort to cosmetic surgery to imitate fashion models and to diets to lose weight. This is a pressure valve for these women and a means to escape their realities
Even my neighbor, when I asked her about her diet, admitted that she’s happy with how expensive chocolate has become, since she cannot buy it every day anymore and thus will now be able to lose the extra weight she has. When I told her that half of the population in Lebanon is now living below the poverty line, and that her delight over the high prices makes her selfish and self-centered, she told me that what made her selfish and uncaring of the poor and their concerns, is Lebanon itself, with its politicians, rulers, and sect leaders.
In the midst of popular anger and despair in a country full of contradictions and wars, I found women who are refusing to accept reality, living in an imaginary country that they created in their minds — a country where they must maintain their figure and weight, as a defense mechanism for their deteriorating psychological state.
* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22
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