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Starving in the land of plenty

Starving in the land of plenty
Ella Tan
  • On April 22, 2015

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How thin is too thin? For the French, it’s not how you look but when your body mass index dips below healthy levels. By their recent ban on the use of too-skinny models, the French are drawing attention to the potentially fatal effects of starving for vanity. In a country as renowned for its fashion houses as for its fine cuisine and slim citizens, it’s not surprising that an estimated 200,000 people suffer from eating disorders.

Of these, the majority are female and young. In Singapore, this same demographic is at risk. Poor self-esteem, peer pressure, a need to be popular all put teenage girls off their food and into the darkness of an unreal self-image.



We don’t have the most up-to-date stats but figures from the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) show that 95 youngsters aged 13 to 19 were diagnosed with anorexia/bulimia in 2012. If we imagine similar numbers being treated at other hospitals, the total might add up to something alarming.

There is no immediate necessity to legislate weight issues in Singapore, a nation mad about food. Our models are not unduly skinny but some celebs look unnaturally thin and with their endorsements of slimming centres and supplements, they might influence impressionable girls like Brandy who went through the hell of anorexia.

With dreams of modelling and acting from the age of 7, Brandy yearned to look like her idols in magazines. Needless to say, these girls were all underweight as the camera adds bulk, so what looks good on film is often skeletal in reality.

She had always been a picky eater but her mother noticed a sharp decline in her weight when she was 16. “Our family always has 3 meals a day and I would make sure the kids never left the house without breakfast. As Brandy always woke up late and had to rush to school, I would pack her a sandwich to eat on the way. After school, she would tell me that she had already eaten outside with her friends and go straight to her room. After a few months, I suspected something was wrong when she was nothing but skin and bones”

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