Hear our youth speak about body and mental health !



                                                                                                                                              Anand Narayanan N S

The title might be scary for many among us, including me. Most of us grew up in a society where any

talk related to body and mental health was considered a taboo. We were taught to not openly discuss

anything about these and we grew up suppressing ourselves every time we wanted to speak out about

our body or our mental health. People still don’t realize the necessity of having discussions about both

these things and it is honestly, quite sad. Body and mental health are interconnected. A healthy mind

brings out a healthy body and vice-versa. So once a person gets insecure about their body, their mental

health takes a hit too and people who are not able to maintain a proper mental health will have no regard

for their bodies. It is important to keep a balance between the two. And it is also necessary to keep a check on both these aspects too.  

A healthy body doesn’t mean a ‘slim body’. People often fail to recognize this. But we can’t simply blame someone because every day we’re subjected to a ‘perfect body image’ constantly. Ads, movies, magazines, and almost everything around us make us believe that in order to get a ‘perfect body’; we should be slim and fair. This is the sad reality. We are judged based on these notions. As an Indian, I can’t even say I’m proud to be brown. As long as I’m not fair, my opinions don’t matter. This is problematic because people who don’t fall into the ‘perfect’ category are made to feel miserable. I hated family gatherings because of this. Every time I attend a family function, I get hit with a list of questions regarding my body. “You’ve gained weight. Why don’t you try dieting?”, “Too much sun, you’ve become dark!”. All these questions lingered with me for days after the function. I’ll replay these questions in my head after standing in front of a mirror. What I saw in the mirror made me hate myself. My own body disgusted me. Now that I look back at these scenarios, I realize that I was being foolish but for a 12 year old child, all those questions were a huge deal. The fact that the people who blindly judge others regarding their bodies, think that they’re not doing anything wrong is extremely scary. They see a person who doesn’t satisfy the needs of the ‘perfect category’, they ask them to try to fit in while also making fun of their present form. To them, this is right. We are functioned to think that forcing everybody to be a certain way is right.

Mental health related issues are not given any attention in most households. ‘Therapy’ is something “shameful” for many parents. They find it hard to tell people that their child needs therapy and hence go against it. This is changing slowly but still there’s a lot more to go. Counseling and Therapy should be encouraged in my opinion. I remember feeling extremely miserable in my high school years because I couldn’t do things like everybody else. I did not bring high marks. My parents were never satisfied with my results. Even if I scored good marks in my language papers, I was blamed for not getting good marks in the science papers. I was not the type of guy girls preferred. This might seem silly to many but at that time, when every boy in my class had girlfriends, I felt like trash because I didn’t have anybody. All of them made fun of me for not “being manly”, which was also the reason they gave me for girls not finding me attractive. All these made me feel absolutely useless. I would’ve loved some help. I am sure therapy or counseling would’ve helped me to an extent, but I didn’t dare ask anybody for help because of the stigma surrounding mental health. And I took it out on my body at times. I didn’t eat well. I took pictures of my body and found every reason possible to find it imperfect and ugly.Loving one’s own body and maintaining a healthy mind might seem impossible, but it’s not. I wish everybody struggling with body insecurities and mental problems reach to the level where they realize this because it’ll give some hope to them. The journey from there to self-love would be much easier.


                                                                                                                                                    Sufina N Sulfi

''My body and My mental health'' is one of the most widely discussed topics in recent times .. By the

time this topic has reached its widespread awareness, I had already gone through all the pitfalls it had

to offer ..!! Let me throw some insight into the phase of my life where I didn't resemble anything like I

am today !!!

I was in my teenage years and I had been bestowed with a disease ''dermatomyositis'' for which I was supposed to take steroids .. I had warnings from my doctor's side about the changes it's gonna create on my body like putting on weight , facial hair,hair loss,osteoporosis etc etc but I was least bothered since I had no idea what was gonna happen to me .. I heard them out silently and started taking my medicines ..

Gradually the steroids started showing its true colours and I was among those few who got the opportunity to experience all its true colours .. It didn't bother to show any pity on a 14 -year old girl .. I was someone who had no experiences with body shaming till then as I was the so called societal normal girl .I guess steroids decided to give a shot at changing it and it worked pretty well . !!!!!

The first observable change was me putting on weight and discolouration of my skin to a colour which was considered 'ugly' and 'scary' by the majority. Slowly this started bothering me and I started losing my confidence unknowingly.. Whenever I stood up to talk or do something in my school activities , I could sense the eyes being glued on to me and it showed nothing but disgust .. Family functions were not different either .. Here I had to bear with the fake sympathies too , which was the worst part because it had the strength to rip me apart .. What could a 14-year old girl do to fight these odds a decade back , when she was not even aware of the concept of mental health and how it was being compromised here ??!! I have had instances where I have been ridiculed publicly in the corridors of my school when I had to conjure up immense amounts of strength to convince me to go to school ..!!! I don't blame those boys because they were totally unaware about the struggle I was going through .. For them such types of persons are usually being mocked in the cinemas they watch and criticized by their family members hence they are conditioned to do the way they did ..!!!! All these and many other instances made me skip school on a regular basis and to my boon my disease worsened and I was confined to the walls of my room .. By that time , I had lost the girl I was !!! Even today I haven't regained her completely .. The struggle goes on !!!

The negative aspects of body shaming rained over me during adolescence,the phase of one's life where one starts recognizing their body, loving it and grooming it in different ways to look the best !! I never had the opportunity to do so ..Many have been denied this right of theirs due to the society's so called notions about how one is supposed to look !!!

Sometimes the worst comments about our appearance comes from that individual in your life who has seen what you had to go through to become like this !!! After the steroid phase of my life , I started my schooling again . This time I had an extra baggage with me - A spinal belt , to provide me with support for the damages steroids caused in my spinal cord !! So , I was this fat human being in school uniform with an extra pair of accessories to her credit .. !!! By that time the discoloration problem was long gone or else I would have to deal with it too !!! I could hear the comments like ''skin is back to normal '' , ''scary look vanished'' etc etc .. I wondered who gave them the right to decide which was the normal look ??? I started getting free advice about what to follow to cut down my extra fats .. I silently heard them all because it was of no use explaining to them that it had nothing to do with the food I take !!!

Years passed on and here I am as the way I am !!! People still ask me about how I look , has my weight reduced or am I the same !!! Some ask out of curiosity , others with the intention to hurt me .. I have made peace with it all !! I still have the flabby arms , stretch marks and and few pounds that steroid gifted me with .. But all these makes me and I have accepted me amidst all these ... It isn't easy , at times even today the glance I get for the way my body is bothers me .. Then I remind myself of all the wars I have fought and not them !!! This makes me keep going and not surrender to those gazes.. !!!!! I have learnt the lesson of not judging or commenting on anybody's appearance and focus on them as an individual !! I try my bit in having discussions with friends and family to break this taboo and insist everyone and myself to look into people beyond their skin colour and the pounds added to it !!!!  


Our artists' contribution to youth mental health month


Excerpt of brilliant video contibutions! 

Arushi Sarabhai

Anoushka Mona Mittal